The history of user interfaces—from the early 1970s when interactive systems first appeared, to today’s most modern GUI interfaces—has followed a pendulum. Each generation of user interface designers collectively changes its mind about whether users need to be guided through a program or whether they should be left alone to control the program as they see fit. Following trends in user control is a bit like following the hemlines at the Milan fashion shows. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Here’s a bird’s-eye view of what happened.
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