Interface Study

Identify a user interface from your daily life. 

Choose one interface you are familiar with. You may not use
a smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet as your example Choose
something that is meaningful to you. In the past, I have received essays on
appliances (such as on washing machines, toasters, or refrigerators),
dashboards in cars, shoelaces, wheelchairs, parking meters, cash registers, and

**Please be careful of using something that is too general.
For example, rather than an essay on timekeeping, which is far too broad, you
could focus just on wristwatches. Or just how dates are represented on

I realize it is often difficult to separate interfaces from
their underlying technologies, but as much as possible, focus your analysis
on the interface, the portion of the device/product/service/object
that a human interacts with–and that fits your personal definition of

My definition  
Interface Is what a user interacts with

Select 2-3 historical precedents. What earlier
versions of your chosen interface exist? They might not be digital or even
electronic, that is fine. Be selective about which precedents you will focus
on: did someone well-known in the field invent it? Was it unique or
ground-breaking? Is the documentation good, can you explore it in detail? If
you cannot find significant precedents, you may want to go back to Step 1 and
try a different contemporary interface as your starting point. Look beyond the
first page of Google search results and Wikipedia. In fact, I would prefer
that you avoid Wikipedia and random blog posts altogether–aim for
scholarly sources if possible.

Analyze your precedents. Explain why your
precedent is historically significant and interesting to you. Is it a
“good” interface? Why or why not? What does it/did it enable people
to do? What are/were the technical constraints? What kind of user uses/would
have used the interface/product? Are there any important societal values that
it reflects? Note any interesting similarities and/or differences between your

At the end of the paper

Be sure to include:

of the example

of the example’s invention or introduction to mass market

of the example

individual, or team responsible for its development


Conclude with a brief reflection about why
history is important to UX.





Cite your sources. Include in-paper brief
citations to external sources and a more complete references list at the end of
your essay (citations and references do not count towards the overall word count).
Use at least 3 sources, only one of which may be Wikipedia. Use the MLA
citation style.

Your essay will likely range between 1,750-2,000


It should go without saying that your writing
must be original. Do not copy + paste from Wikipedia or any other source. Write
in your own words.  See this resource
from Purdue University’s online writing lab: Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own
Words. Work that is not in your own words will not be accepted.



If more instructions is needed you can ask me to clarify.


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