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A Pictorial History of the "Apple Desktop Interface" 1979 - 2000

July 1979 Prototype

( Developed on an Apple ][ )

  • Area for application status messages
  • Cursor controlled with cursor keys to layout lines, text, boxes and data fields.
  • Prompt and Message ares. Arrows indicate possible cursor movements.
  • Softkey Area shows the current set of ten choices.

February 1980 Prototype

  • Iconic prototype panel for selecting drawing tools. Special FlipBooks for browsing choices for ruler, font, pattern and line styles.
  • Cursor controlled with the mouse or cursor keys.
  • Menu area with choices selectable via the Mouse or the Softkeys.

March 1980 Prototype

  • Iconic panel on top of the window.
  • Cursor now controlled with the mouse. Used here in a dialog box.
  • Scrollbar with an elevator to show the current vertical position. Horizontal arrows slip pages left or right.

August 1980 Prototype

  • Pull down menu bar attached to the window with the window grow icon.
  • Windows that collpase to their folder tabs for viewing multiple documents. The Scrap for cutting and pasting.

October 1980 Prototype

  • Pull down menu moved to the top of the screen.
  • Horizontal and vertical scrollbars are attached to the window frame.
  • Multiple overlappying window with clipping.

December 1980 Prototype

  • Browser-like display with individually resizable panes.

(Looks a lot like the NeXT-style "Browser View" coming in Mac OS X, doesn't it?)

July 1981 Prototype

(Notice the dialog slides out from under the menubar. Remind of you the new feature in Mac OS X?)

Lisa Office System 1.0

(May 1983)

Lisa 7/7 Office System 3.1

(1984, Final Release)

(Notice the Desk menu holding both running apps and Desktop items with open items indicated by a checkmark. Lisa Office System was a cooperative multitasking environment with protected memory.)

January 1984

  • Macintosh System 1.0.


  • Macintosh System 4.2 (Finder version 6)


  • Macintosh System 7.5.3

Summer 2000: Mac OS X

(January 2000 MacWorld Keynote)


"Prototype" snapshots Copyrightę 1997 by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page or intial screen of the document. Take from Interactions, vol 4, issue 1, pp 40-53.

"Lisa Office System 1.0" and "Lisa 7/7 Office System 3.1" photos Copyrightę 1998 Tom Stepleton. Apple Lisa Web page

"Mac OS X" screenshot Copyrightę 2000 Apple. Main Page Pegasus Launchpad Jeremy's Personal Page OSY