The book at amazon.comThe Invisible Computer[1]


good products can fail,
the Personal Computer is so complex,
and Information Appliances are the solution

by Don Norman

a book review by Matthias Müller-ProveJune 2001

This book is not about invisible computers.

human-centered design vs. technology-centered design

tripod of product development: Technology, Marketing & User Experience

This book is about invisible computers.

An Information Appliance is a device that is the opposite of a general purpose device like a PC. It is optimized for one specific task only. Like a clock on the kitchen wall that is simply used by taking a look at it once you want to know the time. No input device is needed, no menus, no windows, no interface between the user and the task.

An Information Applicance does not necessarily need to be a small device like a PDA – although the term is often (ab)used for hand-helds. The Canon Cat by Jef Raskin is an early example for a writing system, that is perfectly optimized for the task of wrinting with the computer.


1 Drop Everything You're Doing
2 Growing Up: Moving from Technology-Centered to Human-Centered Products
3 The Move to Information Appliances
4 What's Wrong with the PC?
5 There Is No Magical Cure
6 The Power of Infrastructure
7 Being Analog
8 Why Is Everything So Difficult to Use?
9 Human-Centered Development
10 Want Human-Centered Development? Reorganize the Company
11 Disruptive Technologies
12 A World of Information Appliances
Appendix Examples of Information Appliances


[1] Norman, Donald A.: The Invisible Computer. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998
[2] –––––: Reply to [3]. 1998
[3] Kirschenbaum, Matthew G.: Truth, Beauty, and the User Interface: Notes on the Aesthetics of Information. 1997