Nikola Tesla Slept Here

At the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel—the inventor’s last home—chief engineer Joe Kinney keeps the flame alive

5 min read
Joseph Kinney
Photo: Randi Klett

Outside the 34th Street side of the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, it seems fitting that lightning cracks the sky as Joseph Kinney [left] points to a plaque recognizing that the father of AC power, Nikola Tesla, once lived at the hotel. That very few among the thousands of people walking by each day realize that the inventor and engineer once rivaled Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford for the mantle of greatest American inventor is why Kinney has spent nearly 20 years championing Tesla.

Kinney, the chief building engineer for the hotel as well as its unofficial historian, is a 63-year-old bespectacled man with white hair and a perpetual twinkle in his eye. His sarcasm and intensity often ignite a rather goofy, high-pitched chortle. Dressed in tie and jacket despite the oppressive humidity of a hot summer day, he is clearly proud of the Tesla plaque, which reads, in part: “Here died, on January 7, 1943, at the age of 87, the great Yugoslav-American scientist-inventor.”

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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
Horizontal
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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