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Graphic User Interface

In the 1970s, Alan Kay developed the Graphic User Interface or GUI out of Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, California. This is was the "desktop" metaphor with its layered windows which would be popularized by the Apple Macintosh computer in the 80's (Paul 11).

Xerox PARC

Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre was a research institution that resulted from the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

The Paik-Abe Synthesizer

The Paik-Abe Synthesizer was built in 1969 and named after Nam June Paik and Shuya Abe. It was a self-contained unit and it allowed the user to add color to a monochrome video image, and distort the image (Meigh-Andrews 116).


Click and Drag Mouse

In 1968, Douglas Engelbart introduced the ideas of bitmapping, windows, and the click and drag mouse. This established a direct connection between the electrons running through the computer and the image on the screen.

Sony Portapak

The Portapak was introduced by Sony in 1967. "The first Portapaks were entirely in the hands of the military and they were used basically to check where their napalm or bombs had gone. Like virtually everything in our society, the driving force is actually conquest" (Meigh-Andrews (61). However, the Portapak made video art available to the masses, placing it directly in the hands of the artist (9). Namely artists working against pop culture and mass media. A growing number of homes had televisions in them, and what was being viewed on the television was being filtered. The artists could now choose what was being recorded and projected, as well as manipulate that transmission. Significant events that were broadcast, such as Abraham Zapruder's recording of the Kennedy Assassination in 1963 demonstrated the power of what a camera could record.



The launch of Sputnik by the USSR in 1957 during the Cold War prompted the United States to take action to be the leader in technology. The Advanced Research Projects Agency was formed within the Department of Defense. The RAND corporation developed a concept for a self-governed Internet. By 1969 it was created and named ARPANET, formed by four supercomputers at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Stanford Research Istitute, and the University of Utah.


In 1946, the University of Pennsylvania presented the world's first digital computer known as ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) and in 1951, a patent was written for the first commercially available computer called UNIVAC (Paul 9).

The Cold War

The Cold War extended between the years of 1947 and 1991 and was a continued state of political and economic tension between the Soviet Union and the United States.


In a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article, Vannevar Bush wrote about an object called the Memex that is able to "browse documents and allow users to create their own trail through documentation" (Paul 8) as well as enter data. This device was never created, but was a precursor for the modern day computer.

Hypertext and Hypermedia

In 1961, Theodor Nelson created the words "hypertext" and "hypermedia" to describe the space where word, image, and sound could be electronically transmitted to anyone connected to a "docuverse" (Paul 10).

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