Behold! The First GUI Capable of Multitasking

In 1974 the Alto PC from Xerox was the first computer to feature a Graphical User Interface, or “GUI.” For those of you who don’t know what a GUI is, let me put it this way: you’re using one. Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux are all GUIs. While we’re used to computers being able to handle dozens of tasks at any given time, back in the 1970 and early 1980s the idea of a computer doing any multitasking brought about stifled snickers from computer designers.

This chaged in 1982 with “Blit.” Blit was a GUI that allowed, for the first time, computers to conduct multiple tasks at one time. But getting into Blit’s GUI was no easy task. First you needed to log in to a particular Unix host, which would load the GUI remotely. The end result?

…should have warned you about the music before the video. I apologize. Regardless, it’s utterly amazing how far computers have come in the past 30 years. We’ve gone from green and black screens that can barely do the most basic of functions, to now having cell phones that are more powerful than PCs of the era.

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One comment

  1. technically, linux itself isn’t a gui. It uses X Windows for gui functionality, but lays over top a command line system.

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