of Hypertext and Graphical User Interfaces

Feedback Section

Dear Readers,

thank you so much for your support and your feedback! Until now, more than 575 people have requested an electronic copy of my work. This is more than a mail per week – each time a reason for a smile on my face. Each time a nudge to pursue my way. It is so much left to be done in computing and HCI. It is so fascinating to see the next generation of systems emerging, and to contribute my 2 cents.

Matthias Müller-Prove, Jan 2016

Tony Rodrigues, 19-Sep-2023:

Matthias Müller-Prove's MSc thesis (2002) is a thing of beauty.
He is one of the few computing scientists who understands the importance of Alan Kay's, Douglas Engelbart's and Ted Nelson's visionary works for the future of human civilization.

Sean Kelley, 14-Jan-2016:

Hi Matthias.
[…] Thanks for the this excellent and thoroughly informative history! So many fascinating ideas, some of which have yet to come to fruition.
- Sean

Peng Haijie, 31-March-2014:

Hi Matthias.
I think your master thesis is very thoughtful! If I could read it at 2002, it must save me 3-5 years on wandring the sea of the literature. I would like reading more articles writen by you on Hypertext/GUI/HCI. And would you mind suggesting me more materials/documents/literatures that you think great (on Hypertext/GUI/HCI, after 2002 writen by you or someone else) […]
best regards!
Peng Haijie

Thanks Peng, very kind of you.

I assume your German abilities are as good as my Chinese. Hence I’ve chosen a set of English references:

Furthermore you might find some other interesting resources on the right column at my thesis's log.

Happy surfing

Piotr Gajos, 2-Nov-2009, at Sourcebits Blog: Handy Resources for Those Who Like to Doodle

This is an absolutely amazing thesis about human-machine interaction written by Matthias Müller-Prove from Department of Informatics, University of Hamburg. Pay attention to chapters 3 and 4. And learn Fitts’ Law by heart, it has huge implications in any kind of UI design.

Körtesi Gáspár, 15-Jan-2009

I just found your thesis on Hypertext and GUIs through searching for Alan Kay's Dynabook. […] It's a fascinating topic and you seem to have collected an insane amount of resources!.

Jonathan Grudin, 27-Apr-2008, Microsoft, USA

I can see you put a lot of work into the thesis and have continued your focus on history as the web itself has continued to evolve. The desktop-web distinction hasn't gone away, but as more web apps appear and storage costs disappear it takes on a different form.

Mike Prendergast, 23-May-2007, Dublin, Ireland

I just happened across your 3rd chapter while trawling the net for info on the early development of GUIs and I found myself enthralled by the sheer density of interesting and succinct information therein.

I would certainly appreciate having the full article on .pdf, not only from general interest, but also as I am writing an MPhil proposal on applications of Human Computer Interface and I'm finding it very helpful in clarifying my thoughts.

 Santiago Villa, 17-Apr-2007, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

[…], and I am doing a master's degree in history. My thesis is about the history of the personal computer, and while searching in the web for bibliography I stumbled upon your web page and read the excerpts of "Vision and Reality of Hypertext and Graphical User Interfaces". I must confess that, having done a fair deal of research, I haven't encountered many other texts that have been so illuminating into the importance of Graphical User Interfaces in the history of human-machine interactions. Many of the topics you touch in your book are very similar to those I am interested in placing in a broader historical context, which extends to the treatises on memory written in Europe during the 16th century. […]

 Maciej Ceglowski, 16-Sep-2006, Poland

I'm very impressed with the times/persons who invented GUI. Now it's obvius and seems always was that way. 50 years ago (and before) it required incredible flash of genius to create such an Idea.

(Nowadays) I feel like consumers are treated unseriously with the pottentially-fully capable devices. Many of them are in fact hard to operate because of lack of good control ergonomy (or GUI) or narrowly defined standards or cheaper chips that give only half of the possibilities.

Vincent D Murphy; 2-Oct-2005

I was at your 'Back to the Future' talk and the Engelbart video conference at Reboot 7.

I have been looking at the history of GUIs and hypertext after seeing and your thesis is a treasure trove. […]

One of my ideas is to figure out ways that Mozilla can support immersive hypertext editing, inasmuch as TimBL's original WorldWideWeb program for NeXT did. It appears to me that much of the hard work is already done, and just needs improvements in the user interface to be made more widely useful.

Ken Ritchie, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; 30-Sep-2005

I really enjoyed reading your "Three Stages" notes […] I am quite fascinated by the correlations I find amongst the works of Alan Kay, Jerome Bruner, Seymour Papert, Howard Gardiner, Ted Nelson, and others. So, as you may imagine, I will look forward to reading your thesis.

Alan Blackwell, 5-May-2005

I have to thank you very much for your Master's thesis work, and the online resources that you collected! I have found these very useful when pursuing my research in the philosophy of metaphor. []

Alan Blackwell, 9-May-2005

That’s really great. I should have asked you for this ages ago – there’s a lot of material that I spent a long time tracking down. Your historical coverage is excellent, and I agree with pretty much all your summary, based on the reading I’ve done.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit, Publisher & Editor in Chief, UXmatters, 5-May-2005

I think your document about the history and evolution of the desktop metaphor and user interfaces is the finest available on the web. Lots of ink (bits?) has been spilled regarding user interface design, however your well researched and supremely well organized document puts all others to shame. Sadly, I do not understand why the issues you raise aren't in more widespread discussion regarding the impending collision of the web metaphor and the desktop metaphor. Keep up the good work.

Jim Everson, 4-May-2005

I think your document about the history and evolution of the desktop metaphor and user interfaces is the finest available on the web. Lots of ink (bits?) has been spilled regarding user interface design, however your well researched and supremely well organized document puts all others to shame. Sadly, I do not understand why the issues you raise aren't in more widespread discussion regarding the impending collision of the web metaphor and the desktop metaphor. Keep up the good work.

Wolfgang Coy, Berlin, 19-Jan-2005

Sie haben eine sehr spannende Webseite gebaut.

Jörg Richter,, 8-Dec-2004

Deine Diplomarbeit und überhaupt die ganze Site sind eine nützliche Resource für meine Arbeit. Geballte Information. Nah an den Wurzeln. Dein Austausch mit den Original-Protagonisten ist spannend. Und die vielen Referenzen bringen mich zu interessanten Dingen, z.B. dem Friedewald-Buch, oder dem Perkins-Artikel über das Lisa UI. [weiter]

Adrian Bruch, Digital design curriculum Lab3000, Ideas Incubator, RMIT University, 8-Sep-2004

... I have found the web version fascinating ...

Jean-Baptiste Labrune, In Situ, Paris, 13-Aug-2004

...your work will be of high value for my thesis about tangible interfaces for children self-awareness, ...

à bientôt,

Bob Goodman, Boston, 27-Jul-2004

Your Web site is a great HCI resource.

Wanted to let you know about another good Alan Kay Link I came across:
1977 Scientific American Article on Xerox Alto Microelectronics and the Personal Computer

David Bruce, UK, 5-Mar-2004

I've just found your thesis, and it’s easily one of the most thoughtfully (and artfully) put-together web resources I’ve seen for a long time. Bravo!

Ludger Humbert in Didaktik der Informatik, Vorlesungsskript 2003, Uni Dortmund

Für die Diskussion der Geschichte graphischer Benutzungsoberflächen und Hypertextstrukturen stellt die Diplomarbeit von Matthias Müller-Prove eine hervorragende Quelle dar.

Hanteng Liao, Sydney, 20-Nov-2003

[...] I am develping a new OS system using the currently popular scheme of weblogging. Your idea and summary of previous work is excellent. Hope you will develop it further in the future.

see my response on his weblog

Aaron Kesher, USA, 22-Oct-2003

I'm a public school English teacher, & I've been jumping around on your page, finding myself getting incredibly immersed... this is great stuff. The gap between the "Vision" of what computers could be & the "Reality" of how they're presented to students in the school system (basically as word-processing documents or a lame research tool) is immense.[...] I'm beginning to get the glimmerings of some unique projects/problems to involve my students in.

Sabrina Geissler, Universität Paderborn, per e-mail 10-Oct-2003

zunächst einmal großes Lob an deine Diplomarbeit: Eine so prägnante Darstellung über Hypertext-Systeme habe ich bisher noch nicht gelesen! Auch die Literaturauswahl ist sehr hilfreich, ich habe mein Material entsprechend ergänzt :-)

Phil Clevenger Cooperating Systems, by IM 2-Feb-2003

lovely work, by web Nov 2002

Okay. Your idea of fun may not be a dissertation on human-computer interaction, but this is pretty interesting. (Disclaimer: I've only just begun to poke around.)

Thomas Madsen-Mygdal,, Danmark, by web Oct 2002

An amazing ressource of interviews, papers and analysis with the pioneers of hypertext and gui's. Alan Kay's original papers, etc.

Steve Singer, 29-Oct 2002

Thank you for publishing your master's thesis on the web. It has been invaluable in tracking down the scattered pieces of Alan Kay's thoughts and work.

Mike Potel, 18-Sep-2002

I discovered your web site and Master's thesis, an excellent job!

volkert, per e-mail 16-Sep-2002

ich schreibe an meiner studienarbeit (einbindung und visualisierung von erweiterten links im web), und lese gerade deine diplomarbeit (eine goldgrube!), die ich bei der mc2002 aufgesammelt habe.

Frank Ludolph, Sun Microsystems, 27-Aug-2002

It was good to read a description of the Lisa that contained *no* factual errors (at least to the best of my knowledge. ;-)

Charles McCathieNevile, W3C, 12-Aug-2002

I read the thesis over the weekend, and enjoyed it a lot. Now I have marked bits for going and thinking more about.

Jesse Grosjean, HCIL, 25-Jun-2002

I just received a copy of your thesis, bound together and all! I've already looked over the acrobat version a few times, and I'm sure now that I have a nice printed version I will keep coming back to it when the mood strikes. It's a great catalogue of all the previous work that I find most interesting in the field, thanks and great work!

Frode Hegland, Liquid Information, 30-Oct-2001

I am half way through and very impressed [...]. I would personally like to read more as well.