Kids today. Growing up with OS X and Vista, it seems that they’re missing a fundamental element of working with computers: having seen them grow from nothing to what they are today. I don’t pretend to be some old-school hacker or anything, but I’m old enough to remember being bothered by having to run certain programs in Windows rather than DOS. I also remember switching disks every damn second on our Mac Classic.
Whether you’re an Apple fanboy or Microsofty for life, it’s worth checking out this excellent retrospective on the computing user interface, which covers everything from Xerox’s groundbreaking early efforts to the latest advances. There are summaries and links to more information — all in all very much worth a half hour of your time to peruse.
I find myself impressed by the Lisa interface and IRIX, which I had not heard of but appears to outshine its peers at the time. None of these alternative OSes we covered a while ago are included, but make no mistake, OSes like those were present and influential even in the 80s. Still, a whirlwind tour like this can only hit the very peaks.