In 1972, after forming the Learning Research
Group at the newly founded Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center),
Alan Kay led what is considered the most crucial advancement
of human-computer interactivity, the graphical user interface
(GUI). Kay introduced the idea of iconic, graphical representations
of computing functions the folders, menus, and overlapping
windows found on the desktop based on his research into
the intuitive processes of learning and creativity. Kay came
to understand, as he put it, that, "doing with images makes
symbols." This was the premise behind the GUI, which enabled
viewers to formulate ideas in real-time by manipulating icons
on the computer screen.
Computers, Kay recognized, might one day replace
books. This led him to design the prototype of the first personal
computer, the Dynabook. The Dynabook, was conceived
as a "dynamic medium for creative thought," capable of synthesizing
all media pictures, animation, sound, and text
through the intimacy and responsiveness of the personal computer.
Kay's research took root in the conviction that
hypermedia, or "dynamic media" as he called it, represented
a profound departure from static media such as painting, television,
photography, print publishing, and film. He saw in hypermedia
the radical interactivity that would characterize communications
in the future.