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First WIMP graphical interface
This image can be zoomedFirst WIMP graphical interface
Since the inception of the WIMP-based Graphical User Interface more than 20 years ago at the legendary Xerox PARC Link points to external site laboratory, the world has seen many GUIs come and go. While it is easy to think of graphical interfaces in terms of newest editions of Windows (95 and up), it’s been much earlier and much more than that.

This site is meant to be an online museum of graphical interfaces, especially those old, obscure and in desperate need of preservation. Whether you want just to look back and refresh some nice memories from years ago, or are interested in seeing how the GUIs evolved throughout the decades (and it is sometimes fascinating to witness that), I hope you’ll enjoy your stay.

Of course, as I am writing these words four month after this website’s launch, there are still more misses than hits – lots of interfaces are M.I.A. and almost no textual descriptions are present. Sometimes I am plainly frightened of all the work that still needs to be done, so if you’re have enjoyed what you’ve seen so far, some encouragement would be very welcome. :)

Also note that, growing up in Windows world, I don’t have much experience in other GUIs. So, don’t be afraid to correct me if I assume something wrong or miss out on anything important.


I have made much effort to present every GUI in their natural state, without customizations, just after run-of-the-mill installation. As Nathan Lineback already proved, you can configure Windows 3.1 appearance to emulate Windows XP Link points to external site, but that’s not the point here – I wanted the GUIs to look like just their creators wanted them to look.

Bad Hai^H^H^HLook Day
This image can be zoomedBad Hai^H^H^HLook Day
Having that I mind, I always chose the resolutions suggested during installation or most popular in the respective era. However, whenever possible I chose the maximum available colour depth (24- or 16-bit), for the GUIs to look the best possible. While nowadays every desktop GUI runs in true colour, earlier choosing a good display mode would mean much for the visuals (Windows XP goes as far as to almost excuse for its bad look if someone launches it in plain VGA mode, cf. picture on the right).

Also, that is why the pictures on this site are in PNG format, sometimes terribly long (and slow to load), but always 100% accurate.

Technical details

Most of the time I use either Virtual PC Link points to external site, VMware Workstation Link points to external site or Bochs Link points to external site. These three programs simply let me create virtual machines inside a real machine (think “emulator of a PC on a PC”) and make the task otherwise impossible... just damn hard. Their disadvantages (lower speed of the virtual machines, slight problems with compatibility) are outshone by pros. That is, being able to: have multiple machines (limited only by hard disk space), run multiple machines simultaneously (limited only by available memory), make screenshots at every moment (booting, installation, shutting down), save and restore machine states, replace diskettes and CDs with hard disk files etc.

Virtual PC 5.2 in action
This image can be zoomedVirtual PC 5.2 in action
I have started with VMware Workstation 3 and then moved to version 4, but I currently prefer Virtual PC 5.2. It seems to have slightly better interface for managing disk images, plus it emulates a rather known S3 video card, which allows the GUI to look good from the beginning, without installing VMware Tools (which is not a natural thing for the interface). Bochs is still infinitely more problematic, but seems to help in some circumstances (ie. GeoWorks 2).

While some GUIs need to be a little bit persuaded to run on a virtual machine, some simply refuse to be compliant (for example because of problems with too modern hardware). That was the case with several operating systems to date (Windows NT 3.1, OS/2 1.3), and they needed to be run on a regular, “live” machine.

For the non-Intel platforms, I used (or am planning to use):
vMac Link points to external site for Mac Plus (System 1-System 6),
excellent BasiliskII Link points to external site for 68K-based Macintoshes (Mac OS 7-Mac OS 8.1),
the long-awaited PearPC Link points to external site for Mac OS X,
similarly great WinUAE Link points to external site for Amiga OS,
WinSTon for Atari ST TOS.

Unfortunately, one can’t emulate everything, therefore some vintage proprietary GUIs are out of reach for me at this moment.

Other programs I have found useful: WinImage Link points to external site and WinISO Link points to external site (for manipulating images of disks and CDs, respectively), Adobe Photoshop Link points to external site (for manipulating regular images), HyperSnap-DX Link points to external site (for making screenshots) and pngcrush Link points to external site (for compressing PNGs even up to three times after they leave Photoshop).

A Really Big Spreadsheet™
This image can be zoomedA Really Big Spreadsheet™
I am also using Microsoft Excel Link points to external site to make sure everything is in order – I have a rather big spreadsheet with every GUI, screenshot and icon in it. The screenshot on the right (click to zoom) is the May 2003 version – and if you think it’s huge, consider that nowadays it’s quite possibly much, much bigger.

Let me know if there’s anything else you would like to know!

Marcin Wichary

Page added on 8th August 2003, and updated on 4th July 2004.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.