Monday, January 26, 2004

Before the Mac revolution, if you wanted to read a particular data file, you normally couldn't scroll your way through a list of candidates until you spotted it. You had to remember its name and type it in. Similarly, instead of scooting your mouse along the menu bar seeking a likely command, you'd most probably have to look the command up in the manual and literally type it in. Or, at best, you had to burrow your way deep into a complicated system of nested menus within menus within menus, getting hopelessly lost when you tried to back out again.

Nesting of this kind was one of the cardinal sins discouraged by Apple's guidelines for programmers. Above all, the Mac allowed its human users to do that most intuitively human of actions: point with the hand at a target, and physically move it where you want it....

Finally, and more elusively, there is the matter of style. Hard to define but, as Louis Armstrong said: "Man, if you gotta ask, you'll never know."

-- Richard Dawkins remembers his first Mac, in today's UK Guardian.

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