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This Giant X-Ray Generator Helped Set Safe Doses for Radiation

Physicist Lauriston Taylor also found X-rays effective against athlete’s foot and bursitis

3 min read
Dr Taylor with high voltage equipment
Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Dr Taylor with high voltage equipmentPhoto: National Institute of Standards and Technology

In 1940, the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (NBS) built this 1,400,000-volt X-ray generator, the most powerful of its kind at the time. The machine was designed to deliver X-rays at an extremely stable voltage, a necessary attribute for the development of standard radiation dosage measurements as well as for research and testing of equipment to protect against X-ray radiation.

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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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