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Boeing at 100

This paragon of technological moxie bet heavily on outsourcing and lost. Can it recover its luster?

3 min read
Opening illustration for Numbers Don't Lie opinion column.
Illustration: Chad Hagen

On 15 July 1916, William Boeing incorporated Pacific Aero Products Co., a small Seattle company, to build light seaplanes. But much bigger achievements lay ahead. In 1939 the Boeing 314, a massive seaplane, inaugurated the U.S.–Asia service of Pan American Airways. During the Second World War, Boeing built nearly 4,000 B-29 Superfortress planes, the war’s largest long-distance strategic bombers.

In October 1958, Boeing’s four-engine 707 made its maiden flight to Paris, ushering in the jet age. During the 1960s, Boeing introduced three-engine and two-engine models for shorter trips, notably the 737, a twin jet that has become the most successful airliner in history, with 9,000 sold by April of this year. Capping it all, in 1969 Boeing introduced the 747, the world’s first wide-body jet, and powered it for the first time with energy-efficient turbofans (rather than the turbojets of yore). This plane helped make affordable intercontinental travel possible.

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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
Stylized drawing of a desktop computer with mouse and keyboard, on the screen are windows, Icons, and menus
Getty Images/IEEE Spectrum

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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