Graphical user interfaces, such as Microsoft CorporationÂ’s Windows, Apple CorporationÂ’s Finder, and UNIXÂ’s X-WindowsÂ–based systems, all feature the following basic components: a pointer, a symbol appearing on the display screen that the user moves to select objects and commands; a pointer device such as a mouse, enabling a user to select objects on the display screen; small pictures or icons representing commands, files, or windows; a desktop, the display screen area where the icons are grouped; windows dividing the screen into different areas and permitting a user to execute different programs or to display another file; and menus letting users selectively execute commands.
The Xerox Corporation is credited with the development of the first graphical user interface in the 1970s. However, at that time, it was too early for widespread acceptance, and more than a decade elapsed until computing speed and high-resolution monitors became affordable enough to be integrated into the computer mass market. The Apple Macintosh included both of these assets and was capable of featuring a graphical user interfaceÂ—which is why this computer became so hugely successful and popular.
See Also: UNIX.