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Chapter 1. Human Computer Interaction fo... > From Human Factors to Usability: A S...

From Human Factors to Usability: A Short History of HCI

During the past two decades, both the number and diversity of people using computers have increased dramatically. Computers now mediate everyday activities in business, industry, education, entertainment, and the home, whereas until the early 1980s computer use was restricted to the technically sophisticated. This rise in use led to a flurry of interface research and design activities during the 1980s and 1990s, which produced the Graphic User Interface (GUI) and, eventually, the Web.

Origins

Scientific interest in the interaction between human beings and computers and user interface design is rooted in the more general area of human-machine systems, human factors engineering, and ergonomics. Systematic investigations of human factors engineering go back to the early time-and-motion studies of Frank Gilbreth (1911). These and all other studies conducted between the world wars concentrated on the operator's muscular capabilities and limitations. During World War II, the emergence of radar and the technology associated with aircraft cockpits led to a shift in emphasis away from physical interaction with machines to the perceptual and decision-making capabilities of operators.


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