A Brief History of the Human – Computer Interface

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Web Design Started with the Interface First

The need for people to communicate with each other has existed since we first walked upon this planet. The lowest and most common level of communication modes we share are movements and gestures. Movements and gestures are language – independent, that is, they permit people who do not speak the same language to deal with one another.

The next and higher level, in terms of universality and complexity, is spoken language. Most people can speak one language, some two or more. A spoken language is a very efficient mode of communication if both parties to the communication understand it.

At the third and highest level of complexity is written language. While most people speak, not everyone can write. But for those who can, writing is still nowhere near as efficient a means of communication as speaking.

In modern times we have the typewriter, another step upward in communication complexity. Significantly fewer people type than write. (While a practiced typist can find typing faster and more efficient than handwriting, the unskilled may not find this to be the case.) Spoken language, however, is still more efficient than typing, regardless of typing skill level. Through its first few decades, a computer’s ability to deal with human communication was inversely related to what was easy for people to do. The computer demanded rigid, typed input through a keyboard; people responded slowly to using this device and with varying degrees of skill. Additional redesigns eventually improved the success rate to 84 percent, and reduced the average completion time to 57 seconds. The human-computer dialog reflected the computer’s preferences, consisting of one style or a combination of styles using keyboards, commonly referred to Command Language, Question Answer, Menu Selection, Function Key Selection, and Form Fill-In.

For more details on the screens associated with these dialogs see Galitz (1992). Throughout the computer’s history designers have been developing, with varying degrees of success, other human-computer interaction methods that utilize more general, widespread, and easier-to-learn capabilities: voice and handwriting. In a second study comparing 500 screens, it was that the time to extract information from displays of airline orlodging information was 128 percent faster for the best format than for the worst. Other studies have also shown that the proper formatting information on screens does have a significant positive effect on performance. Systems that recognize human speech and handwriting now exist, although they still lack the universality and richness of typed input.

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Atin Dasgupta has 45 articles online

Atin Dasgupta is director and founder of Leveljam. Web Design Mumbai Company Leveljam delivers strategic digital business solutions for businesses small and big alike. Each project that we take on starts with careful listening and understanding of your requirements. We ask, we analyze, we discover the right solution for your company’s needs. This is followed by strategy and planning. We take a planned approach to executing every project as we believe each client and project is unique. Contact us here.

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A Brief History of the Human – Computer Interface

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This article was published on 2011/05/03