Window Cooling at Xerox Star

// reblogged via on fb So this morning I was curious about the origin of what is often referred to as the hamburger icon. Spent a few minutes digging around and found this video from the Xerox Star. Turns out that Norm Cox is who designed the interface for this system. I emailed Norm and asked who designed the hamburger icon? Here’s his response:

You’ve done your homework and found the right guy. I designed that symbol many years ago as a "container" for contextual menu choices. It would be somewhat equivalent to the context menu we use today when clicking over objects with the right mouse button. Its graphic design was meant to be very "road sign" simple, functionally memorable, and mimic the look of the resulting displayed menu list. With so few pixels to work with, it had to be very distinct, yet simple. I think we only had 16×16 pixels to render the image. (or possibly 13×13… can’t remember exactly). Interesting inside joke… we used to tell potential users that the image was an "air vent" to keep the window cool. It usually got a chuckle, and made the mark much more memorable. It’s been nice to see that so many of our designs from those early pioneering years have stood the test of time and become ubiquitous symbols in our UI’s. Feel free to share the short story. I have many more design related stories from my days at Xerox PARC during the birth of graphical UI’s, and subsequent 30+ years consulting. I think it’s important to share the past with designers today to help them understand the philosophies, constraints, considerations and inspirations that got us to where we are today. I only ask for proper attribution when you post something from me. (I like people to know that they can get in touch with me for more design tales!) Kind regards Norm

all-the-widgets from Brad Myers on Vimeo.

Deeper Cosmology – Deeper Documents

Ted Nelson 2013 - by Frode Hegland, animated by Matthias Mueller-Prove

This is not my planet. And this is not my conference.

– Ted Nelson’s opening words at ACM Hypertext 2001. Once in a while I find it very refreshing to remind myself on potential alternatives and fundamental considerations about the state of technology with respect to the web and our knowledge management tools as such. An ever-trusted source on this is Ted Nelson (bibliography and videos).
More quotes from the talk:

  • I think of the world wide web and XML and cascading style sheets is the ultimate triumph of the typesetter over the author.
  • three fundamental problems today:
    1. hierarchical file structures
    2. simulation of paper
    3. the application prison
  • Software is a branch of movie making.
  • The question is about starting over.

A friend who has attended the conference gave me a CD with the talk. Eventually, I decided to upload the recording to vimeo. Please enjoy:

Ted Nelson at ACM Hypertext 2001 from mprove.

Photo: Ted Nelson 2013 – by Frode Hegland, animated by myself


The second video – which I helped to put into the public space – is also from the vision’n’concept department: Starfire by Sun Microsystems 1994.

At CHI ’98 I’ve attended a presentation by Frank Ludolph on Apple Lisa. Frank had also booth duty at the conference where he spread a couple of VHS tapes of Starfire. What marvelous concepts! Multitouch, voice UI, wall-size displays, tablets with motion and orientation sensors, telepresence for video conferences, among many more…
Years later – in 2005 – I asked Tog for a digital copy. Of course he had one – but no permission for sharing. By chance I was working for Sun at the time and got approval from Sun’s VP Juan Carlos Soto to release the video. So please enjoy_

Starfire Director’s Cut, Sun 1994

More References

Future Shock

There are a couple videos in the public domain space now where I take credit to have preserved them from fading away. The first is Future Shock by Apple 1988.
Future Shock: gesturesFuture Shock: gesturesFuture Shock: glasses with subtitlesFuture Shock: e-learning

I saw it first on an Apple promo CD while working at BBDO in the early 1990s. It was a tiny QuickTime movie. But it made a huge impression on me. Gesture and voice interaction, as well as an early predecessor concept of google glass – didn’t know that at the time 😉

A decade later I stumbled upon the CD at the library of the IZHD, made a backup copy, and uploaded it to my site. From there it went to Mac Essentials’ magazine site, and eventually to youtube.

The poor quality is still due to the original QT version. I would be very interested to get a hires version…

Future Shock, Apple 1988 from mprove.

5 inspiring talks

Here comes a set of 5 videos that have (at least) one thing in common. To me they mean a lot – which is in fact already the second thing that they share.

Hermann Maurer at Cognitive Design, Lübeck 2005

Technological Dreams & Nightmares – An Outlook To The (Near) Future, Hermann Maurer, 2005 from mprove on Vimeo.

Joe Weizenbaum at MEDICHI, Linz 2006

Joe Weizenbaum, MEDICHI 2007 from mprove on Vimeo.

Ivan Sutherland at Sun’s SEED Summit, Menlo Park 2006

Ivan Sutherland on Leadership, Sun 2006 from mprove on Vimeo.

Paul Pangaro at coThinkTank, Berlin 2011

coThinkTank 2011 Keynote: Design for Conversations & Conversations for Design by Dr. Paul Pangaro from newthinking on Vimeo.

Ted Nelson at The Future of Text, London 2013