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100 Years of the Institute of Radio Engineers

Looking back on a century of innovation, looking forward to the next

3 min read
1915 photo of a joint meeting of Institute of Radio Engineers with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
Photo: IEEE

1915 Institute of Radio Engineers

Photo: IEEE
TOGETHER: In 1915, the Institute of Radio Engineers held a joint meeting in San Francisco with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers [above]. In 1963 the two groups merged to form the IEEE. Click on the image to enlarge.

In 1912, when the Institute of Radio Engineers was founded, my mother was 10 years old. She lived on a farm in a house with no electricity. She had never seen an automobile, and it would be quite a few years before she heard a radio station or saw an airplane fly through the sky above the farm. Yet she lived to see, on television, a man walk on the moon. What an age of achievement!

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How the Graphical User Interface Was Invented

Three decades of UI research came together in the mice, windows, and icons used today

18 min read
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Stylized drawing of a desktop computer with mouse and keyboard, on the screen are windows, Icons, and menus
Getty Images/IEEE Spectrum
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Mice, windows, icons, and menus: these are the ingredients of computer interfaces designed to be easy to grasp, simplicity itself to use, and straightforward to describe. The mouse is a pointer. Windows divide up the screen. Icons symbolize application programs and data. Menus list choices of action.

But the development of today’s graphical user interface was anything but simple. It took some 30 years of effort by engineers and computer scientists in universities, government laboratories, and corporate research groups, piggybacking on each other’s work, trying new ideas, repeating each other’s mistakes.

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