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objects, thus obtaining a sensory feedback (visual or auditory). Each logic
action corresponds to a physical one, producing a tangible effect.
After menus and mouse, interfaces were enriched with 'icons'. Icons are
small graphic objects that are used to indicate the user's choices. Each icon is
associated to an action of the user, and it is arranged to symbolize in a very
expressive way the effects of performing such an action. Icons are used as
physical objects to be manipulated through the mouse. With the introduction
of icons, true graphical user interfaces (GUI) arise that are based on the
window-menus-icons-pointers paradigm (WIMP). GUIs are designed as
metaphors of everyday life objects to stress their learnability. The most
famous metaphor is the 'desktop metaphor' that was invented at the Xerox
Labs. Starting from the mid of 1980s, Apple spread it out all over the world.
Along with technological improvements, the first theoretical studies on
HCI are conducted during the 1980s. At the beginning of 1990s a sudden
change took place with regard to the way of designing a GUI. The interface is
now a user-centred system. Moreover, the first analyses on the target users of
particular computer systems are carried on.
Interface design is now a true discipline that is faced in a scientific way,
with the aim to support humans in the task of facing complex problems in the
surrounding reality.
1.2.2 Modern HCI
Nowadays, the meaning of HCI is related to man-machine interaction that
takes place in social and organization contexts where different systems are
intended to satisfy different human needs.
In this field, humans are analysed according to
their psychology,
their abilities and
their physiological limits.
In a nutshell, HCI involves the communication between humans and
computers and their abilities when using complex systems such as interface
learnability and performance measures in task execution.
Starting from 1960s all these topics have been deeply analysed by the
various scientific disciplines involved in HCI. At first, human information
processing during the interaction process was studied with the aim to build a
'model of humans' to be useful during the design phase.
The first usability tests were developed at the beginning of 1980s along
with the growth in the use of PCs. Technological developments during
the 1990s have supported a strong use of the HCI concepts in modern
workstations via an increase in the computing power, the communication
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