for greater efficiencies in large software development tasks will produce pressures for greater standardization in the languages used and in software engineering procedures. Once these pressures begin to rigidify software development processes, at some time far in the future, concerns about enslavement and stifling of creativity could indeed characterize software technology. My personal assessment is that software technology is today remote from that degree of standardization and rigidification of the development system.


I would like to express appreciation for helpful discussions with three of my Xerox colleagues, Dr. Adele Goldberg, Dr. Robert Ritchie, and Dr. Robert Spinrad. I also acknowledge a helpful and stimulating discussion with Mr. William Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corporation.



Windows on the display screen are in many respects a metaphor for the way we use several papers and books on the desk as we work. Placing on the desk a book or paper to which we refer as we write a manuscript is, in effect, opening a new window to our visual attention. Of course, it may temporarily cover other books or papers to which we have been referring. In the context of the computer interface, windowing is setting aside an area of the display screen as a domain of visual attention, within which activities are carried on either alongside or over other windows on the display. The secret of opening these windows, storing other windows elsewhere on the screen, and carrying on independent computing or editing activities within each window lies, of course, with the programming. This approach is a major software advance of the past decade.


WYSIWYG is a nearly pronounceable acronym for “What You See Is What You Get” (meaning what you get on the printout from an associated laser printer). Each small spatial element of the printed page is accessed by the laser beam from the scanner as the beam is controlled by the bit-stream. Considerable design effort is made to see that the display, which is inherently of lower resolution than the laser beam-addressed page, closely resembles the page that will be printed on the paper. This page layout is typically laser-scanned at about 300 elements per inch, whereas the typical computer display has a resolution of 70–75 elements per inch. Considerable software effort is required to make the display screen appear to the knowledge worker just as the page printout will look from the higher resolution laser printer.


Maguire, M. 1986. First report from “The Software Capital of the World.” Carnegie Mellon Magazine (4, Summer): 17.

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