AT&T Announces Open Look Graphical User Interface
New York -- April 11, 1988 -- AT&T today announced an advance that will make it easier for many customers to use computers based on the company's UNIX(R) operating system.
Called the OPEN LOOK(TM) user interface, it employs common-sense graphic symbols instead of written commands to help users work more efficiently with their UNIX System V-based computers.
"OPEN LOOK will change the way the industry thinks of the UNIX system," said Vittorio Cassoni, president of AT&T's Data Systems Group. "This interface brings the benefits of the UNIX system to a whole new group of users who otherwise might never have taken advantage of the power of a UNIX system-based computer."
The OPEN LOOK technology was designed for AT&T by Sun Microsystems Inc. of Mountain View, California. Sun's design is based on original work, contributions from AT&T, and on technology licensed from Xerox Corporation, which originated many of the concepts present in today's computer interfaces.
The OPEN LOOK interface's graphic symbols include push pins to "pin" important menus to the screen for further reference and an elevator to move up or down in the text. To print or store files, users move a hand-held mouse to push labeled buttons designed to look like those on a household appliance.
"As the name implies," said Cassoni, "the OPEN LOOK user interface supports AT&T's
commitment to open systems and the need for a standard user interface."
This interface represents the next critical step in truly expanding the UNIX system marketplace," said Scott McNealy, president of Sun Microsystems. "Applications developed with the OPEN LOOK interface can vie for a larger market because the interface is standard."
The interface has already generated endorsements from key computer system suppliers, PC and workstation software suppliers and systems suppliers.
"We believe this is what the industry has been waiting for," said Cassoni, adding that endorsements by key MS-DOS application vendors represent a watershed in the evolution of the UNIX system.
"Lotus' goal is to provide its customers with common applications such as 1-2-3 across standard platforms," said Jim P. Manzi, president and CEO of Lotus Development Corporation. "Until recently, the variants of the UNIX system were a barrier to that goal. The OPEN LOOK interface exemplifies a movement toward a more standardized UNIX environment. This movement has encouraged vendors like Lotus to develop UNIX system versions of proven applications such as 1-2-3."
"We consider the UNIX system environment a strategic development platform today and in the future," said Edward M. Esber, Jr., chairman and CEO of Ashton-Tate Corporation. "The OPEN LOOK user interface will play an important role in helping us to provide our customers with powerful, yet easy-to-use UNIX system applications."
Wayland R. Hicks, president of Xerox Corporation's Business Products and Systems Group said, "Xerox is endorsing the OPEN LOOK interface as a future building block for Xerox document processing products and systems."
UNIX System V is the fastest-growing operating system, according to industry sources, with worldwide shipments of UNIX system-based computers expected to grow at an annual rate of 30 percent over the next three years. AT&T said the OPEN LOOK user interface should make the UNIX system even more popular by making it easier to use.
The interface offers benefits for users and application programmers alike.
In addition to being easy for them to learn, the OPEN LOOK interface will make users more productive because it allows them to create multiple "windows" on their computer screens, each of which can perform a different task simultaneously.
Programmers will find that the various Application Programmer Interface (API) Toolkits AT&T plans to release will give them a set of tools -- or pre-programmed components -- to make it more efficient to write new applications by reducing the amount of code that needs to be written per function.
In addition, because the OPEN LOOK user interface is the standard interface for UNIX system-based computers, programmers don't have to be retrained to write software for different machines -- thus, increasing their productivity.
AT&T will circulate OPEN LOOK specifications for comment this summer and will make them available in the third quarter of this year. These will include a specification of the common style for applications -- the Applications Style Guide -- as well as descriptions of the programming interface for OPEN LOOK under two toolkits, both of which AT&T will support via a single graphics system platform. They are the XT toolkit based on the X Windows and the NDE toolkit based on NeWS.
The first availability of OPEN LOOK features in an AT&T product will be this summer in a window manager for the 6386 workstation, followed by an XT toolkit in the fourth quarter 1988 and an NDE toolkit in the first quarter 1989.
In keeping with its commitment to support standards, AT&T said that as they become accepted, the company would support APIs for emerging standard interfaces. AT&T also will license source code for the various toolkits supporting the OPEN LOOK user interface.
The OPEN LOOK user interface toolkits are scheduled to be available in source form in early 1989.
The OPEN LOOK user interface is designed to be useful into the 1990's. For instance, unlike some graphical interfaces, the OPEN LOOK interface is designed for a wide range of applications from simple document processing to much more sophisticated computer-added engineering (CAE). In addition, the graphics perform well whether they appear on a PC or a high resolution engineering workstation. Also, the interface will support a variety of terminals accessing different applications.
AT&T today also announced it will co-sponsor with Sun Microsystems a series of eight, three-day conferences around the world beginning in September to give independent software vendors, value-aided resellers and large corporate users a preview of the key technical features of UNIX System V Release 4.0, including the newly announced OPEN LOOK interface.
"Today's announcement, "Cassoni concluded, "further delivers on our promise to provide our customers with the world's premiere computer operating system."
OPEN LOOK is a trademark of AT&T. UNIX is a registered trademark of AT&T.