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RISC OSAcorn Archimedes’ operating system Arthur is told to stand for “A Risc-based operating system by THURsday,” reflecting the extraordinary short time it took to finish it. The rumour has it that ArthurOS was a quickly devised replacement for the original system ARX, which failed to materialize.

Lisa Office SystemAll icons, buttons and GUI elements in Apple Lisa Office System are glyphs in special system fonts, and are drawn internally just like regular text.

Lisa Office SystemApple Lisa interface initially supported scrollbar boxes that were proportional to the displayed portion of the window, but the designers abandoned this idea, fearing that users will have problems understanding it properly. It took years for the idea to resurface; proportional scroll boxes appeared in Mac OS 8 in 1998, and also earlier in Windows 95.

Lisa Office SystemXerox Star/ViewPoint/GlobalViewApple Lisa was the first commercial personal computer to be operated by a graphical user interface. Xerox Alto, the first GUI-based computer from the ’70s, was a research project, while Xerox Star and PERQ, both predating Lisa, were technically workstations.

BeOSNeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP/RhapsodyBeOS was initially available only on a dedicated machine called BeBox. PowerMac and Intel releases followed, with R3 being the first Intel version (quickly replaced by R3.1). This is similar to NeXTSTEP, which started on NeXT computers. The first version of Intel processors was also 3.0.

Mac OSBeta versions of classic Mac OS used to rename the “Special” menu to various different words, such as “Shuswap”, (in Mac OS 7.1 beta) “Snowman” (Mac OS 8.2 beta), “Scimitar,” “Simulcrum” (Mac OS 8.5 betas) and “Spaz” (Copland).

RISC OSBy the second version of ArthurOS, Acorn decided to rename it RISC OS because of the movie “Arthur 2: On the rocks,” which just premiered in the cinemas.

Mac OSComing after Jaguar (Mac OS X 10.2), Panther was supposed to be designated Mac OS X Version 11, but Apple eventually settled on 10.3. A CD picture with version 11 label was available for a while on Apple’s public relation subsite.

Mac OSNeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP/RhapsodyBeOSWindowsOS/2Contemporary Mac OS X has more in common with NeXTSTEP than with classic Mac OS. When it was obvious that classic Mac OS design has limitation which cannot be overcome, and after several failed internal replacement projects at Apple (including the infamous Copland), the company started looking outside. When it was almost certain that BeOS will serve as a framework for the new OS, Apple surprised everyone by buying out NeXT, Inc., and using their operating system. BeOS was allegedly too limited (it couldn’t even print!) and too expensive. OS/2 and Windows NT were also considered alternatives, as both had PowerPC versions at the time.

Mac OSDesk Accessories in Mac OS (such as Calculator and Stickies) were originally called “desk ornaments.” Link points to external site

GEOS/GeoWorksMac OSFor many years since 1986, GEOS operating system was bundled with Commodore 64C, at one point being the second best selling GUI-based operating system in the world, surpassed only by Mac OS.

TOSGEMWindowsIn 1983, Microsoft was in talks with Atari (specifically, Leonard Tramiel, son of the famous Jack Tramiel) to sell the upcoming Windows as the ST’s operating system. However, Windows was then two years away, and Atari decided to go with Digital Research’s GEM.

Mac OSIn late 1999 Apple discontinued the British English localized version of Mac OS 9, causing quite an uproar among UK users. The changes between UK and US editions included “Wastebasket” instead of “Trash,” in addition to the obvious spelling differences such as “Colours” instead of “Colors.”

Lisa Office SystemLisa’s GUI introduced many concepts in a way we know them today – the list includes pull-down menus, drag-and-drop (for moving icons), double clicking (for selecting the icon and performing the default action), and desktop trashcan.

NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP/RhapsodyNeXTSTEP 1.0 has been licensed to IBM, who ported it to AIX architecture. However, it took so long, that by the time the project was finished, NeXTSTEP 2.0 for NeXT hardware was ready. Since the company wanted more money for a new 2.0 license, and there was no obvious benefits, IBM lost interest in NeXTSTEP.

Lisa Office SystemThe Apple Lisa screen had unusual, non-square pixels, a decision which gave the display higher horizontal resolution at the expense of awkward aspect ratio (1.5:1 instead of typical 1:1). This was a problem while rotating objects, running Macintosh-native programs, etc.

RISC OSThe characteristic blue/orange/blue/red colour scheme of ArthurOS is typically referred to as “technicolour.”

TOSThe first Atari ST from 1985 has earned a nickname “Jackintosh” because of its GEM interface (very similar to that of Macintosh) and the name of the Atari’s then new owner Jack Tramiel (of 8-bit Commodore fame).

Mac OSWindowsThe icons for Windows Vista will reportedly convey over 1500 times more data (but not information!) than icons for original Macintosh System (196608 vs. 128 bytes each).

Lisa Office SystemOS/2The interesting terminology of Apple Lisa seems to have inspired other GUI architects. Authors of OS/2 2.0 Workplace Shell wrote in their guidelines “We characterize the Minimize and Hide actions as requests to ‘put aside temporarily,’ while Close is thought of as ‘put away.’” This is almost identical to “Set Aside” and “Put Away” options of Lisa.

Lisa Office SystemThe original trash can for Apple Lisa was supposed to have been an old, beat up alley trashcan, with the lid half open, flies buzzing around it and appropriate sounds as user put something inside.

GEMMac OSRISC OSThere were several computers having a complete GUI in their Read-Only Memory, ready to be used instantly after powering on. The list includes 1990’s Macintosh Classic (with built-in System 6.0.3), Atari ST (excluding very early editions of 520ST with TOS on a floppy disk) and Acorn machines with RISC OS.

WindowsTo promote Windows 1.0, Microsoft sent out a press kit featuring... a cotton washcloth to clean windows. Link points to external site

OS/2To prototype and test a Workspace Shell GUI for OS/2 2.0, IBM used the legendary, heavily object-oriented SmallTalk V/PM.

WindowsTo prototype and test various Chicago (Windows 95) interfaces, Microsoft used their Visual Basic 3 tool. Link points to external site

Symbian OS/EPOCWhile EPOC officially is named after an epoch – a new era in portable computing – many fans of Psion’s handhelds like to explain it as... Electronic Piece of Cheese.

Mac OSWhile many classic Mac OS fans lamented the demise of WindowShade (a feature that rolled the window to its title bar when double clicked) in Mac OS X, it is still present in one application – Stickies.

WindowsWindows 1.0 was released only to be pulled out after two weeks and replaced by Windows 1.01. The reason for the recall was rumoured to be a major bug. As a result, the original 1.0 version is very hard to come across.

WindowsWindows XP icons were created in part by the design studio at IconFactory. Link points to external site Unfortunately, the team was not hired to redo all the icons, hence many inconsistencies between them.

WindowsWrite and Paint were originally thought to be bundled with Windows 1.0 only as a promotional offer, similarly to what Apple did with original Macintosh. However, both Paint and Write (and its successor, WordPad) are included with Windows to this date.

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With thanks to Joseph11, Jan Mueller and zillalust.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.