Evolution of Human – Computer Interaction

Humans have many reasons to work with an electronic device. With the innovations and low cost manufacturing electronic devices are now becoming closer to humans. When referring to an electronic device, it can be a laptop, mobile phone, tablet, headphone, TV or even a dashboard of a car. The success of users’ action prominently depends on the productivity of the interaction between the human and the electronic device.


In the early stages of HCI people used typewriter, light pen, trackball to input data. And as a cheaper and practical solution people replaced light pen with the ball mouse. And headphones, speakers were used as output devices. User friendliness of the computers was very low in those days. And only the IT geeks, researchers could use computers. And new users needed months and a great deal of patience to learn how to interact with computers.

However later people found many ways to make the interaction more effective.

Command Driven Interfaces (CLI)


CLI was the primary method of interaction in early computer systems. At CLI, you have to give a textual command as the input to carry out operations. A single character, set of characters or a whole word used as the command. Users had to remember all the commands in the exact way. The CLI is preferred by professionals even today. Because it’s more concise and more powerful than GUIs. However due to the low user friendliness, non-techy people prefer to use GUIs.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)


Rather than using the command driven, difficult to use interfaces scientists introduced the graphical user interface. This was much easier to learn, use than the CLI. The WIMP (windows, icon, menu and pointing device) concept was first used at Xerox PARC. Macintosh is the first successful commercial computer to have a GUI. Then Microsoft used GUIs in their computing products.

There are operating systems and software applications that have only a CLI. However most operating systems have both CLI and a GUI.

After the invention of the GUI, it was a lot easier to interact with computers. In new GUIs the usage of text is minimal. Because it can; save the screen space, beat the language barrier, easy to understand and make the applications more simple.

Touchscreen Devices


Another major turning point in an interaction between computers and humans was the invention of the touchscreen. A resistive touchscreen devices came into usage in around 1970s and the first touchscreen phone was coming into usage in 1993. This technology now being used for almost every device. Increased intuition, easy coordination and reduced response time are some of the main advantages of touchscreen devices.

Mobile Devices- Smartphones


In the beginning mobile phones were only used as a communication device. However later people saw the importance of small in size, portable computing devices. Therefore smartphones came into usage. Smartphones have important features such as memory, processing power, internet access. Due to smartphones, the human computer interaction dramatically increased. Because of its capabilities, it can provide assistance to many day to day activities.

Mobile Applications

Smartphone with cloud of application icons

Now people are developing millions of applications for smartphones to assist day to day activities. And modern applications run on the web. So people can interact with them from any location using any computing device. Responsive web sites make it easy browse and get the work done using any device, despite its screen size. Today almost all the websites are mobile friendly. Even Google now considers the mobile friendliness of a website as a ranking factor when providing search results (source).

Future: Touchless interactions

Touchless interaction is available on current computer devices. Most of them are motion or proximity sensors. For an example, when you are taking a call and placing the smartphone near your ear the proximity sensors in smartphones lock the screen. However current sensors don’t fully control the device.

Project Soli


Google is working on a concept that dramatically change the human interaction with electronic devices. They are trying to use radar to identify movements of human hand get it as an input. So people can interact with devices without completely touching them. (source)


Human interaction with the computer devices will evolve further in many ways in the future, making the interaction smoother, more effective and simple.


Ray Tomlinson – The inventor of email


Anyone who uses internet is familiar with email. People send and receive emails for different purposes.According to Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019 of Radicati Group 215.3 billion of emails sent or received per day worldwide. Ray Tomlinson is the man behind this wonderful invention.

Ray Tomlinson was born on April 23rd 1941 in Amsterdam New York USA. He attended Broadalbin Central School and later joined the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In RPI he participated in an internship program with IBM. In 1963 he received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. Then he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and obtained master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1965.

In 1967 he joined the R & D firm called Bolt, Beranek and Newman (now Raytheon BBN Technologies) where he helped to develop the ARPANET. It was the time he realized the need of a way to send emails to different users who are separated from their machines. Therefore he introduced the “@” sign to network communication and created the “user@host” email addresses.

The first email was sent to himself. As he says in an interview with NPR in 2009 "I had two computers side by side… I could wheel my car from one to the other and type a message on one, and then go to the other, and then see what I had tried to send.". But he couldn’t remember the content of the first email he sent. Because his test messages were mere strings of characters.

Ray Tomlinson was not asked to do so. Therefore when Ray Tomlinson showed this to a friend he asked his friend to not to tell this to anyone else. But when the world understood the true means of this revolutionary invention, he was paid tribute.

He received many awards and honours. George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award from the American Computer Museum in 2000, IEEE Internet Award in 2004, Innovation award from Discover magazine etc.

He passed away on March 5th 2016. His invention “email” brought the communication to a whole new level. And as email continue to evolve and grow day by day, Ray Tomlinson’s contribution to enhance communication is more highlighted.