The Green UI

I was having a conversation the other day with someone about touch screens, gesture languages, physics in UI actuators, transition animations, and all sorts of other cool stuff in the iPhone UI. It got me cranked up about a project we had done at Sun years ago. Fortunately, we had made a video of it in 1992 that I managed to find a copy of. It's really badly done (it was done for a UI conference presentation), but it shows a lot of interesting points (for example, the grid-style TV schedule browser). You can tell it's pretty old from my hair color.

Tumbling Duke in 1992? Silly me, I thought he was born post 1995. For those interested, here's some more history:

Posted by rama on August 30, 2007 at 03:03 PM PDT #

This is another way to prove how Apple has its own way to reinvent the wheel and let people believe Apple invented it.
I know for long time that SUN could have managed to make an "iPhone like" fully UI and touch screen, better than the iPhone itself, but obviously Apple got its way to get on the market.
Take Project Looking Glass for instance, to me the new OS X is going to take lots from it..and again apple "invented it"!!
Anyway, thanks for this video James...long live JAVA

Posted by Threads on August 30, 2007 at 09:22 PM PDT #

Apple may not have reinvented the wheel, but they did the right work to make it a lot more usable.

Look at how the views pan around in this demo. Sure, it follows the old scrollbar metaphor that you would drag left to slide the view right. It's a viewpoint-oriented metaphor and while that probably works for programmers and geeks it's totally non-intiutive for regular users.

On iPhone you drag left and the picture slides left. It just feels right. Was Apple innovating there, or just refining what was already there?

Posted by koz1000 on August 31, 2007 at 12:55 AM PDT #

A few years back, MS got a patent for the double-click because of a very generic patent that covered the long-click. Looks like we got some prior art here.

Posted by Robert J. Saulnier on August 31, 2007 at 01:11 PM PDT #

Very impressive for the period. I don't see as a previous response indicated it was a all intuitive. The design appears to follow your finger around the screen and uses inertia as well.

Apple has never done truely ground-breaking stuff. What Apple has always done was take a good idea and refine it. Look at the early MacOS progression compared to Windows and the use of a HIG in the Mac space which really brought the UI together.

While Apple may not have invented the technology, they're often the first to market, or the first to hype it to the extreme. Information is power, and he who floods the media first, wins! Or, in the case of technology, 'invents'!

Posted by Nathan Middleton on August 31, 2007 at 09:31 PM PDT #

Apple never did claim they invented all those technology. However the thing about why apple has such a cult following is that they took whats available and made a products that push the boundaries in simplicity and usability and not to mention look good. look really good. Do anybody think Sun is able to come up with anything like iPhone? I don't think so look at the Swing UI. after many years and many new L&F wots the difference? There is not a UI that can rival the default UI of the OS X nor Windows. Face it.....Sun is not know for designing. I refer strictly to eye candy. This is not to say Sun is not a good company or that it has lousy capabilities. Just that the companies have different competitive advantages and directions.

Posted by anonymous on September 02, 2007 at 12:00 PM PDT #


Posted by guest on September 02, 2007 at 05:14 PM PDT #


Posted by guest on September 02, 2007 at 05:14 PM PDT #

Apple sucks :)

Posted by Felipe Gaucho on September 02, 2007 at 05:17 PM PDT #

very neat!

(if possible please host future videos on youtube, the quicktime is taking a truely horrendous amount of time to download)

Posted by andrew on September 02, 2007 at 07:36 PM PDT #

The HTC Touch has been available in Europe for the last couple of months with TouchFlo gesture technology. It beats the iPhone in almost every regard including time to market here. I love how Apple can sell a product on hype and not substance. It's obvious that we're going to see more gesture technology incorporated into future devices. Microsoft has also got a few clever research projects in this area, including one that is like the Minority Report.

Posted by Dan on September 02, 2007 at 09:11 PM PDT #

Apple doesnt suck but they usually market ideas they havent found first. e.g. user interfaces was an example too. They usually find right time to generate a buzz about their products.

Posted by Burcu Dogan on September 03, 2007 at 09:59 AM PDT #

Hey James... glad to see these old bits survived. I've often wondered why no one ever dug out the old Aspen and Star7 source and ported it to modern vintage Java for posterity. You should post the even sillier Chuck Clanton special VOD 94 demo video as well...

15 years today since that very first \*7 demo... even Ed and Mike never would have predicted Nasdaq: JAVA...

Posted by Chip Farquar on September 03, 2007 at 11:45 AM PDT #

There is so much stuff that we did on Green. If you remember the star seven was going to cost $6000 at retail (based on the economics and parts list of 1992). To see all of the star seven (times 100 or 1000) in the iPhone fifteen years later is gratifying.

Posted by David LaVallee on September 03, 2007 at 01:57 PM PDT #

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