The value of history and your elders

Today as part of a program I am participating in I was able to hear from Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research. The historical knowledge of touch interfaces he possessed was fascinating. I appreciate how he mentioned that with poor definitions for touch interfaces the keyboard is a touch interface.

Below are just 4 examples of technology that existed in our history that I found amazing, absolutely amazing. He made a statement along the lines of, within Microsoft we have all the people who know the history of modern day computing. As I thought about this, I realized that it was a current day example of the need to value our older generations. I can remember as a kid going to IBM with my dad and walking down a hallway and the entire room that we walked past was ‘the’ computer. Obviously my Dad would know more about that piece of equipment and someone 10-20 years older would know even more.

I put these in the order of how I personally found them fascinating

  • Wang Freestyle – make sure to select the Videos link and see the other historical systems.
  • IBM Simon
  • Casio watch – see the link for Finger-trace for a picture. From the article linked below: "I have a Casio watch that I bought in 1984," Buxton says. "It allows me to use my finger to operate a calculator. I was able to trace '1 + 1 =' on the screen and it would say '2'. That's how long this stuff has been available."
  • Plato IV Computer

For a small bit of reading here is Bill’s site and an article discussing touch