Ten years of interactions

XI.1 January + February 2004
Page: 6
Digital Citation

Ten years of interactions


Authors:
interactions Staff

January 1994. Ten years to the month since the introduction of the Macintosh, and the first issue of interactions was released.

In 1994 you would still be using Windows 3.1, and Microsoft had recently successfully defended itself in the copyright case against Apple, a case which had divided the computing world and given birth to a new set of badges: "Keep your lawyers off my computer." The Pentium was very new, and if you were lucky enough to have a new computer it would be running at 60 MHz—but you were more likely running on a 33 MHz 80486, with around 8 Megabytes of RAM. If you used a Macintosh, well the Power Macs would be announced in 1994, running at 33MHz, and you would be using System 7.5. The World Wide Web was just beginning to gain traction; the first Web Conference would be held in May 1994 and around 300 people would turn up. The first Web server ran on a NeXT computer, a company that Steve Jobs had started in 1989 to create a computer running a graphical user interface on top of Unix (in 1996 it would be bought by Apple). The first tentative, incomplete, releases of Linux had appeared starting in late 1991. Although the Newton had given birth to the term PDA, the Palm and Windows CE wouldn’t be released until 1996.

They were interesting times. And SIGCHI, which had formed in 1982 with a few hundred members and had grown more than ten-fold, had been wondering for several years whether it should commission a practitioners’ magazine or an academic journal. In the end they decided to just do both. So top designers put their heads together and mocked up an issue, and in January 1994 the first issue of interactions appeared (its academic sister publication Transactions on Computer Human Interaction (ToCHI) launched two months later).

The founding editors were John Rheinfrank and Bill Hefley. Early section editors were Jakob Nielsen, Susan Dray, Kate Ehrlich, and Michael Muller. In 1994 interactions was a quarterly, but the good reception it received meant it moved to six issues a year starting in January 1996. In July 2000 it became the membership magazine of SIGCHI.

Figure.

In Our Own Words…

The Mosaic interface has clearly demonstrated a critical threshold of general usability and offers a tantalising taste of a fully networked world’s flavour.
—Barry Fenn and Herman Maurer, October 1994.
(Mosaic was the first widely used Web browser)

In a high-tech twist on the charity auction, The Computer Museum is hosting "The First Internet Auction" to support its educational programs. The auction [...] will be conducted entirely through electronic mail on the Internet using software created and donated by Enterprise Integration Technologies.
—April 1994

There’s a theory that in ten years things don’t change much and that in 15 you’ll barely recognize them. [...] It’s likely that my kids in ten years will look back and say "It was so goofy in those days. Computers were these little boxes with keyboards. And mother had them all over the house. And the one on the kitchen didn’t even talk."
—Brenda Laurel, January 1994

Most people can’t imagine 20 years later. So this year 350,000 Americans will die because they didn’t change their diet and exercise habits.
—Alan Kay, April 1994

This active matrix display has a resolution of 284 pixels per inch, which is approximately equal to that of a laser printed document. Resolution: 3072 by 2048 pixels.
—Xerox PARC experimental display, January 1995

If you actually look at the technology used to support the Web, it’s old fashioned. There’s nothing new there. Even so, when you start to use it, you realize there’s a qualititative difference that supercedes anything we’ve ever experienced before.
—Don Norman, April 1995.

The growth rate [of the internet] is constant and hasn’t changed for 25 years. If you double every year for 22 years, you end up with four million. We tend to notice things when they get to be in the millions.
—Gordon Bell, Oct 1995

Too much industrial research is driven by a frantic scampering after technological Holy Grails—not by an exploration of changing social needs.
—John Thackara, November 1999

Figures

UF1Figure. The first issue, January 1994

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