Apples Lisa-Design aus der Sicht von 1983

Modern Mechanix hat einen extrem faszinierenden Artikel aus dem Byte Magazine über Apples „geheimes 'Lisa'-Projekt“ aus einer Zeit, als man mit den Begriffen Maus, Icons oder Zwischenablage noch nix anfangen konnte. Es ist schon einigermaßen erstaunlich, dass sich am Handling von Dateien auf einem Rechner bis heute nichts grundlegendes geändert hat. It's still „pointing“ the „mouse“ to an „icon“ on the „desktop“ and „clicking“ to open the file.

Although the Lisa design has several important elements, four stand out: the machine’s graphics-mouse orientation, the “desktop” and “data-as-concrete-object” metaphors, and the integrated design of the hardware and software. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

The graphics-mouse orientation: The traditional text display and keyboard input device make for a computer that is—let’s face it—not too easy to use. Apple decided that the graphics resolution of the machine had to be high enough to use pictures (often called icons by Apple) in place of text. (For example, see the icons on the right-hand side of photo 2a.) Pictures are more easily recognized and understood than text. Because of this, you can probably figure out that the garbage-can icon in photo 2a is used to throw something away.

Apple also knew that it needed a new, easier-to-use input device to move the frequently used arrow-shaped cursor. The designers passed over such devices as light pens and touch-sensitive video panels in favor of the mouse, a pointing device used in several Xerox PARC machines. The mouse, which is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, has a small bearing on the bottom and one or more buttons on the top (see photo 3). When you hold it in your hand and slide it across a flat surface, the mouse sends signals to the computer, which guide the video cursor in the direction that you’ve moved the mouse. The mouse Apple designed has only one button; Apple broke with the conventional wisdom of two- and three-button mice after user tests indicated that people aren’t always sure which button to push on a multiple-button mouse.

With graphics of sufficient quality and a mouse, the Lisa lets you get what you want by pointing at it. Because the video cursor moves in direct response to the way the hand moves the mouse, you feel as if you’re actually pointing at something on the screen. This has the positive psychological effect of making you feel in control.

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