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The 1961 Mobot Mark II Had All the Moves

Billed as a “Replacement for Man,” the Hughes Mobot combined strength with a delicate touch

2 min read
photo of woman posing with Mobot Mark II
Photo: J. R. EyERman/ThE LIFE PIcTuRE coLLEcTIon/GETTy ImaGEs

photo of woman posing with Mobot Mark IIPhoto: J. R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In the late 1950s, Sandia Laboratory was looking for a way to handle radioactive materials without putting humans in danger. The answer was the Mobot—short for either “remote robot” or “mobile robot”—a remotely operated system designed by Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1959 that offered a unique and effective combination of strength and dexterity.

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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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