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Photo of the AIR-2 Genie was a 1.5-kiloton nuclear missile.
Photo: Stephen Cass

A few minutes from the gaudy energy of the Las Vegas Strip is a quiet museum dedicated to an age when nuclear fireballs lit up the Nevada desert like second suns. Starting in 1951, more than 1000 atomic devices were detonated at what is now called the Nevada National Security Site, about 100 kilometers north of Las Vegas. Detonations went underground in 1963 and were suspended completely in 1992. The National Atomic Testing Museum (NATM) chronicles the history of this period, as well as some of the work at the site that continues to this day.

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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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