You may have heard the term before, but what exactly is a graphic user interface? You probably use different forms of GUI throughout your day without even realizing it. What is it, and why is it important? Read on for the scoop on the graphic user interface, also known as GUI (goo-ee).

GUI – The Basics

Pronounced per its acronym, GUI may sound like a fun, light-hearted concept, but it’s actually a crucial component to most electronics these days. Essentially, GUI is the technology that allows you to interface, or interact with your computer in a way that you can easily understand. The GUI thus provides a visual representation of what is going on within the computer so that we can understand and interact accordingly.

Inside of computers and other electronics devices, computer code is the language that is used for all tasks and functions. The problem with this, however, is that most of us do not fluently understand computer coding language nor have the time to engage in it for most computing tasks. The next problem is that we need a way to “see” all of this so that we can ingest and use it for our own further use. Enter the GUI.

How it Works

The GUI was therefore created as a way for us to visually interact with computers and other electronics in a manner that we can easily work with. With the GUI, we are provided with a visual representation of what’s happening in the device. This is usually presented on a screen or monitor of some sort, and is rich with language and symbols that we can easily understand and work with.

So, how does it all work? In basic terms, GUI takes advantage of language interpretation. It is software that interprets the computer’s code-language into the user’s own language. The user then can interact with the items they see on their screen via the GUI, and the GUI then interprets that interaction back into code for the computer to understand and subsequently act upon. GUI is a form of software programming that is built-in to most computers and electronics before the end user even gains access to it.

History of Graphic Interface

Looking back on the history of GUI, there was never one, central character to take credit for its inception. Rather, GUI was produced as the result of many engineers, programmers, and other specialized professionals all working together. Officially, however, Vannevar Bush, head of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development, is thought to have been the first theorist of the concept on paper.

Beyond theory, GUI rapidly began to take shape at the hands of many, separate endeavors across the US. Stanford Research Institute, the US Department of Defense, and many other contributors each made updates and adaptations to the quickly evolving interface system. Soon after, the Xerox company would produce the first official and complete GUI system in the Xerox Alto computer. Next would come giants such as Microsoft and Apple along with their much more evolved versions of GUI systems found within a new concept – the operating system.

Without GUI, no one knows what the state of today’s electronics and computers might be. Perhaps the only users would then be those with advanced knowledge in computer code language. In any case, these are the basics of the all-important graphic user interface system that the entire globe relies on today.