Graphical User Interface Timeline

This timeline lists all of the graphical user interface environments that I have been able to find information about through my own research and on the Internet. I want to be as historically accurate as I can, however due to limited available information there may be some mistakes. See my notes section at the bottom of this page for known inaccuracies. If you see an error and have additional information about it please e-mail me.
 
1973
April 1973, the first operational Alto computer is completed at Xerox PARC.

The Alto is the first system to pull together all of the elements of the modern Graphical User Interface. 

Features:
3-button mouse.
Bit-mapped display.
The use of graphical windows.
Ethernet network.
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1980
1980: Three Rivers Computer Corporation introduces the the Perq graphical workstation.

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1981
1981 June: Xerox introduces the Star, the commercial successor to the Alto.

Notable features:
Double-clickable icons, overlapping windows, dialog boxes and a 1024*768 monochrome display.

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1983
1983 January: Apple introduces the Lisa.

Notable features: 
Pull down menus and menu bars.

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Visi Corp releases Visi On, the first integrated graphical software environment for IBM PCs.
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Microsoft announces their new "Windows" program for the IBM PC but does not release it until 1985.

Notable features:
Is supposed to have overlapping / resizable windows.

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1984
January 1984: Apple introduces the Macintosh.

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September: Digital Research announces its GEM icon/desktop user interface for 8086- and DOS-based computers. It also was later ported to the Atari ST.

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June: "window system X"  announced at MIT.
Versions 1-6 were monochrome only, and ran on DEC VS100's displays connected to VAXen and VAXstations 1 and 2. 
Versions 8-10 dealt with color, for the VAXstation II/GPX. X10 is the first version that saw widespread availability and use on many vendor's systems.
Version 11 was redesign for higher performance, more window management styles, extensibility and better graphics capability
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1985
1985: Geos released for Commodore 64 and later the Apple II. 

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July:  Commodore introduces the Amiga 1000 with the Amiga Workbench Version 1.0.

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August: Microsoft finally releases the first version of Windows.

Features:
Windows can not be overlapped, but are instead "tiled".
Windows are not allowed to cover an area at the bottom of the screen that is reserved for "iconized" programs.

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1986
1986: Apple threatens to sue Digital Research because the GEM desktop looked too much like Apple's Macintosh. Digital Research cripples the desktop application so Apple will not sue.

The new GEM desktop now has just two unmovable, non-resizable windows for file browsing.

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1987
March 1987 - Apple introduces the Apple Macintosh II, the first color Macintosh. 

Features: 640*480*256 color with 24 bit color card available.

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Microsoft releases the second version of Windows, version 2.03. 

Features:
Finally has resizable / overlapping windows and new windowing controls.

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Acorn releases "Arthur" for the Acorn computer, it is the basis for RISC OS. RISC OS 2 and 3 have a similar look, but an improved feel. 

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1988
September 1988: Apple releases GS/OS, a 16-bit operating system with a Macintosh-like GUI for the Apple IIGS.

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October:  IBM releases OS/2 1.10 Standard Edition (SE) which added a graphical user interface called Presentation Manager. (OS/2 1.0  was text mode only!) The 1.10 GUI was written by Microsoft and looked like Windows 2. 

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October: The NeXT Computer is released for $6500. It includes a 25 MHz '30 processor, 8 MB RAM, 250 MB optical disk drive, math coprocessor, digital processor for real time sound, fax modem, and a 17" monitor.

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1990
1990: Commodore releases Amiga Workbench 2 for the A3000.

Features: New 3d effects, a revised menu system and many other improvements.

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May 1990: Windows 3.0 released by Microsoft

Features: Program Manager shell.

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November: PC-GEOS released by GeoWorks.

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1992
Spring of 1992: IBM releases OS/2 Version 2.0, a true 32-bit OS.

Features a new "Workplace Shell", an object oriented user interface that is heavily integrated with the rest of the OS. 

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March: Microsoft introduces Windows 3.1. The user interface is basically the same as Windows 3.0 but now includes their "multimedia" enhancements. 

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September: Amiga Workbench 3 released for AGA Amigas.

Features: Images for backgrounds, color pallet remapping.

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1993
May 1993 Microsoft releases the first version of Windows NT, their 32-bit OS. They give it the version number "3.1" and use the same user interface they do for regular Windows 3.1. Made available for Intel, Power PC, Alpha, and MIPS systems.

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1994
1994: QNX Software Systems releases the first embeddable microkernel windowing system, the Photon microGUI.

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1995
1995: Microsoft introduces Windows 95 on August 24th. 

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October: Be introduced BeOS at Agenda 96. The first version was designed to run on a custom multiprocessor system known as the "BeBox".  Later made available for Power PC and Intel systems.

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1996
1996: New Deal releases New Deal Office 2.5, which was formerly PC-GEOS. 

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IBM Releases OS/2 Warp 4 with a significant facelift for the Workplace Shell.

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Microsoft releases Windows NT 4.0 with the same user interface as Windows 95.

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1997
July 1997: Mac OS 8 is finally released. Selling 1.25 million copies in less than 2 weeks, it becomes the best-selling software in that period.

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1998
June 25, 1998: Microsoft releases Windows 98.

Features: Internet Explorer Web browser application takes over the role of the Windows shell, advertising right on the desktop, entire help system replaced by Internet Explorer.

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November 22, 1998: Shane Brooks Releases 98Lite, an installer that removes or prevents the installation of Internet Explorer with Windows 98.

Features No Internet Explorer or advertising, all the hardware support of Windows 98, faster boot time, and the more responsive Windows 95 shell. 

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1999
March 1999 - Apple releases Mac OS X Server, a Unix based OS with their Macintosh GUI. 

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June 1999 - RISCOS Ltd releases RISC OS 4 for RiscPC, A7000 or A7000+ machines.

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2000
January 5, 2000:  Apple announces Aqua, the new look for their upcoming MacOS X client. 

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February 17, 2000: Microsoft Windows 2000 (AKA Windows NT 5) becomes available in stores. 

Features: The Internet Explorer web browser application finally takes over the Windows NT UI. 

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2001
October 25, 2001:  Microsoft releases Windows XP (AKA Windows NT 5.1)

Features: 
Tons of eye candy. 
"Product Activation" tethers XP to the existence of the Microsoft corporation. 

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Notes:
I am limiting this timeline to systems that provide GUI services to other applications, this is why I am not including individual graphical DOS apps or older graphical programs.

I am also not listing each version of a GUI system unless a significant change has occurred in it. MacOS has kept the same basic user interface since Version 1 and is therefore only mentioned a couple of times. Each of the Windows interfaces is listed. (Except for Windows ME which looked just like Windows 98 and 2000).