Since the inception of the WIMP-based Graphical User Interface more than 20 years ago
at the legendary Xerox PARC
laboratory, the world has seen many GUIs come and go. While it is easy
to think of graphical interfaces in terms of newest editions of Windows (95 and
up), it’s been much earlier and much more than that.
|First WIMP graphical interface|
This site is meant to be an online museum of graphical interfaces, especially those old, obscure
and in desperate need of preservation. Whether you want just to look back and refresh some nice
memories from years ago, or are interested in seeing how the GUIs evolved throughout the decades
(and it is sometimes fascinating to witness that), I hope you’ll enjoy your stay.
Of course, as I am writing these words four month after this website’s launch, there are still
more misses than hits – lots of interfaces are M.I.A. and almost no textual descriptions are
present. Sometimes I am plainly frightened of all the work that still needs to be done, so
if you’re have enjoyed what you’ve seen so far,
some encouragement would be very welcome. :)
Also note that, growing up in Windows world, I don’t have much experience in other GUIs.
So, don’t be afraid to correct me if I assume something
wrong or miss out on anything important.
I have made much effort to present every GUI in their natural state, without
after run-of-the-mill installation. As Nathan Lineback already proved,
you can configure Windows 3.1 appearance to emulate Windows XP , but that’s not the point
here – I wanted the GUIs to look like just their creators wanted them to look.
Having that I mind, I always chose the resolutions suggested during installation or most popular
in the respective era. However, whenever possible I chose the maximum available colour depth
(24- or 16-bit), for the GUIs to look the best possible. While nowadays every desktop GUI
runs in true colour, earlier choosing a good display mode would mean much for the visuals
(Windows XP goes as far as to almost excuse for its bad look if someone launches
it in plain VGA mode, cf. picture on the right).
|Bad Hai^H^H^HLook Day|
Also, that is why the pictures on this site are in PNG format, sometimes terribly long (and
slow to load), but always 100% accurate.
Most of the time I use either Virtual
PC , VMware
Workstation or Bochs .
These three programs simply let me create virtual machines
inside a real machine (think “emulator of a PC on a PC”) and make the task otherwise impossible...
just damn hard. Their disadvantages (lower speed of the virtual machines, slight problems
with compatibility) are outshone by pros. That is, being able to: have multiple machines
(limited only by hard disk space), run multiple machines simultaneously (limited only by available
memory), make screenshots at every moment (booting, installation, shutting down), save and restore
machine states, replace diskettes and CDs with hard disk files etc.
I have started with VMware Workstation 3 and then moved to version 4, but I currently prefer
Virtual PC 5.2. It seems to have slightly better interface for managing disk images, plus it
emulates a rather known S3 video card, which allows the GUI to look good from the beginning,
without installing VMware Tools (which is not a natural thing for the interface).
Bochs is still infinitely more problematic, but seems to help in some circumstances (ie.
|Virtual PC 5.2 in action|
While some GUIs need to be a little bit persuaded to run on a virtual machine, some simply refuse to be
compliant (for example because of problems with too modern hardware). That was the case with
several operating systems to date (Windows NT 3.1,
OS/2 1.3), and they needed to be run on a
regular, “live” machine.
For the non-Intel platforms, I used (or am planning to use):
|vMac for Mac Plus (System 1-System 6),
|excellent BasiliskII for 68K-based Macintoshes (Mac OS 7-Mac OS 8.1),
|the long-awaited PearPC for Mac OS X,
|similarly great WinUAE for Amiga OS,
|WinSTon for Atari ST TOS.
Unfortunately, one can’t emulate everything, therefore some vintage proprietary GUIs
are out of reach for me at this moment.
Other programs I have found useful:
WinISO (for manipulating images of disks and CDs,
respectively), Adobe Photoshop
(for manipulating regular images),
HyperSnap-DX (for making screenshots)
and pngcrush (for compressing PNGs even up to three times after they leave Photoshop).
I am also using Microsoft Excel to make sure everything is in order – I have a rather big
spreadsheet with every GUI, screenshot and icon in it. The screenshot on the right (click to zoom)
is the May 2003 version – and if you think it’s huge, consider that nowadays it’s quite
possibly much, much bigger.
|A Really Big Spreadsheet™|
Let me know if there’s anything else you
would like to know!