Interface

interface OED 1. a surface at which two portions of matter or space meet. 2. a mens or place of interaction between two systems, organizations, etc.; a meeting place or common ground between two parties, disciplines, etc. 3. an apparatus for connecting electrical or electronic devices or systems so that they can be operated jointly or communicate with each other; an apparatus enabling the computer to communicate with a computer.

The interface between a human and a computer is called a user interface. The current most common user interface is that which uses a desktop metaphor to help users more easily interact with the computer. The desktop metaphor treats the monitor of a computer as if it is the user's desk upon which objects such as documents and folders of documents can be placed. A document can be opened into a window which represents a paper copy of the document placed on the desktop.

The desktop metaphor was first introduced by Alan Kay at Xerox PARC in 1970 and elaborated in a series of innovative software applications developed by PARC scientists throughout the ensuing decade. The first commercial computer that adopted this kind of interface was the Xerox Star but it was the Apple Macintosh which brought the graphic user interface to a large commercial audience.

‘Designing Information Technology in the Postmodern Age - From Method to Metaphor’
by Richard Coyne 1995
Published by MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-03228-7

Examples of some uncommon interfaces can be found:

Video Desk / Video Place Myron Kreuger - 1989
‘Virtual Reality II’
Myron Kreuger 1991
Published by Addison-Wesley ISBN-13: 978-0201522600

Paul Sermon Telematic Dreaming and Vision 1992-1995
‘Art and Technology’
VCH Publishers ISBN 1-85490-221-0

Brain-Computer Interfaces - Krishna Shenoy, Stanford University

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