A Directly Manipulatable Xerox PARC Alto

Malcolm Gladwell writing for The New Yorker:

The same is true of the graphical user interface that so captured Jobs’s imagination. Xerox PARC’s innovation had been to replace the traditional computer command line with onscreen icons. But when you clicked on an icon you got a pop-up menu: this was the intermediary between the user’s intention and the computer’s response. Jobs’s software team took the graphical interface a giant step further. It emphasized “direct manipulation.” If you wanted to make a window bigger, you just pulled on its corner and made it bigger; if you wanted to move a window across the screen, you just grabbed it and moved it. The Apple designers also invented the menu bar, the pull-down menu, and the trash can—all features that radically simplified the original Xerox PARC idea.

An oldie, but a goodie. I can’t get enough. Every time I read about this particular time in Apple’s history I get the feeling there are more bits in the hiding. For instance, I’d like to know how clicking an icon went from a pop-up menu popping up to launching a program or being able to drag it. It is common sensical in hindsight, but at that moment I’m certain there were many heated debates and a few aha! moments. Anyone know?