History of Interaction Design

The history of interaction design really begins with the invention of the computer. Although the term did not yet exist, early computer designers, such as those who designed the giant IBM computers, had to incorporate a means through which human operators could input information and the computers could output results of the computations. This took the form of punch cards and primitive printouts or blinking lights. In 1973, the designers at Xerox PARC used interaction design to build one of the first personal computers, a desktop model with a keyboard and monochrome monitor. Later, technology giant Apple would incorporate many of these interaction designs into the early Macintosh computer.

It was not until the late 1980s when the term interaction design was advocated by designers Bill Moggridge and Bill Verplank. It was originally considered an adaptation of user interface design, which was common in the field of industrial design. The term was meant to replace an earlier term coined by Moggridge, soft-face, which referred to applying user-controllable software to industrially designed machines.

Interaction Design, in being recognized as a legitimate field unto itself, was helped by an MA degree program being offered at the Royal College of Art in London. The program was initially called Computer-Related Design, but it was eventually changed to Design Interactions. The founder of the program, Gillian Crampton-Smith, went on to help found the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy in 2001. The institute has since merged with Domus Academy in Milan. Today, over 16 universities worldwide offer undergraduate degrees in interaction design, and at least 37 universities offer a graduate degree program. One of the universities with a strong interaction design program in Australia is the University of Queensland.