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NwAvGuy: The Audio Genius Who Vanished

An anonymous engineer created some of the best DIY audio designs—and his fans want to know where he went

4 min read
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Illustration: Brian Stauffer

Some audiophiles spare no expense to get the very best sound-reproduction equipment money can buy. They will happily plunk down US $20,000 for a pair of loudspeakers or pay $1600 for one of the more highly regarded preamplifiers. And price tags an order of magnitude higher are not unheard of.

Expensive stuff looks great and impresses your friends, but does spending more really ensure that you’ll get a better product? Blind testing has proved that proposition is no more true for audio gear than it is for wine. Still, many people who manufacture or review audio equipment persist in making subjective judgments, which are often influenced by the price tag. This practice badly irritated an anonymous electrical engineer known to the world only by his online moniker, NwAvGuy.

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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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