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A Graphical User Interface is a interface that helps the user to interact with the system using pictures and images instead of using Command Line Interfaces and text commands. There are a vast variety of electronic devices that a Graphical User Inerface can be used on like: computers, hand held devices (MP3 players), gamming devices, household appliances and office equipment.
(4) History of Graphical User Interface
The first time that an ideea of a Graphical User Interface was express happend in 1930 when Vannevar Bush wrote about a device called "Memex", which he desribed as a desk with two touch screens for graphical display, a keyboard and a scanner that was attached to the device. Unfortunatelly at the stage digital computers werent invented yet and this device that Bush was talking abouth could not actually work.
It was only in the 1937 that some companys started constructing digital computers. But Bush's ideea was something that inspired Douglas Eglenbart to try and build the machine that he was talking about.
In 1968 Douglas and his staff after working for years in this project manage to develop the technology which was then presented in a public demonstration in front of thousand of computer professionals. The system tht he developed was called NLS or On-Line System and it was networked between several computers.
The public presentation that Douglas Eglenbart did in 1968 amazed people and showed them how the future in technology will look like, with people beeing able to colaborate all over the world using computers networks. This was something that pushed the company called XEROX, which at the time had a bussiness based on paper, to try and take control of the new technology.
In 1970 they formed PARK(Palo Alto Research Center). The ideea behind the PARK was to attract the best computer researchers and make them work in developing the future in computing. First they invented the lasser printer. After this because they did not have a machine that will work with their laser printer in 1973 the invented ALTO which had a display as the most striking feature. Later they realise that they need a consistent user interface for any new application and they came up with the first modern GUI wich was called Smalltalk. Smalltalk first started in 1974 and since then it is continuosly updated.
The combination of Smalltalk and Alto made a personal computer with a Graphical User Interface similar to the ones we have today.
In 1981 the Xerox Star 8010 Document Processor was release to the public. But the changes made to this new machine were very confusing for the general public. At this stage Xerox had lost most of the researches to other companies.
In 1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak formed, in a garage, a small group called Apple Computer. They attracted most of the top computer scientists from Xerox. They start recreate their project and work on Alto and Smalltalk but this time trying to come up with a product that had the potential to become popular.
They started working on Lisa in 1979 and they release the computer in 1983. The team that worked on Lisa agreed on an icon based interface , developed the first pull-down menu bar and invented some GUI concepts that we use today. But very high price of Lisa stopped it from becoming a high sale product.
The first product that became a commercial success was the Macintosh and was released in 1984. This product had the files luck like pieces of paper, folders luck like file folders and also have some desk accessories like: calculator, notepad and alarm clock.
In 1994 March Torvalds release 1.0 of Linux which contributes a graphic user interface.
In 1998, in addition with the support that many big companies announce for Linux, a group of programmers begin developing the Graphic User Interface called KDE.
In 1999 developers start working on GNOME a graphic environment which becomes a free replacement for KDE.
(5) X Window System
The X Window System was developed in 1984 and it is the standard environment for UNIX. It is a network transparent graphical system which was primarily used on UNIX and UNIX-like systems, for example Linux.
The X Window System is also known as X11, creates a hardware abstraction layer and allows device independence.
X is a client/server model with one of the most important feature the fact that it was designed to work over a network. The client that could be a local client or a remote client communicates with the server using the X Protocol. The X server is based on a request from window manager and manages the display. Window manager is a X client also. The window manager determines how the screen appears, or what a user can do with the windows. It is the job of the client application to decide what happened inside the window.
In most of the computers today you will find KDE or GNOME to be used as desktop environments.
KDE was founded in 1996 as an open source software project written in C++ language.
Advantages of using KDE:
Makes a good use of the drag and drop functionality
Allows you to access files from other computers as they were local
Allows application to display a help button which open a help file in the help viewer
The user has the option of getting multiple system information's through graphical interfaces of the desktop. From the Control Centre the user can display information for the processor, memory, PCI bus or network devices.
There are many applications that have been developed to be used with KDE. The base package has a mail client, calendar, CD player, image viewers, chat programs etcâ€¦ Applications in KDE almost always have a K in the name.
Few more features that KDE has:
Konqueror which is used to browse local files, or it is used to browse the web
Same as the Microsoft Office KDE has Kword
Kpresenter, Kcalc, Kontact
Kwrite as a default text editor
KDE includes an IDE(Integrated Development Environment)also
KDE is usually preferred by the people that are transiting from Windows or from Mac because it has pretty graphics.
GNOME is a desktop environment written in C language and it was started in 1997.
GNOME stands for GNU Network Object Model Environment and is a free and open source software mainly developed by the Red Hat employees.
GNOME is less glitzy and less consistent then KDE but it is also simpler, faster, cleaner and more elegant. At the moment GNOME it is distributed as the default desktop environment for most of the Linux distributions.
Same as the KDE, GNOME has a very reach applications range and most of the applications have a G in their name. An exception for the G in the name makes it the window manager which is called Metacity.
Features that GNOME has:
AbiWord an office application for word processing
Gnumeric which is a spread sheet
GIMP an application for image processing
GNOME has a file manager called Nautilus and same as KDE provides infrastructure for application developers, infrastructure that is very powerful ad very easy to use.