The best way to predict the future is to invent it. – Alan Kay

Alan Kay is one of the great visionaries of computing technology, a pioneer in many of the graphic interface elements we take for granted on our PCs every day.

Despite working with early computers in the 1960s that were profoundly abstract and unprecedented in their complexity, Kay saw little value in them if they weren’t useful to everyone. If a user had to memorize a series of complex commands, which were out of the reach of most people, such technology was not achieving its full potential.

Early computers were operated through string after string of command lines. Kay radically altered this dynamic by allowing a user to interact with objects everyone understood – a mouse pointer, file folders and trash cans. It seems simple now,...

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