Page 24


A Brief History of Computer Icons

2001 Mac OS X v10.0 Mac OS X v10.0 signified a complete overhaul in the look and feel of the Macintosh operating system. Although the interface itself was a welcome update to previous designs, the rendering power required for the various effects and UI animations caused the interface response time to lag, which drew early criticism from the Apple community. Designed around the new Aqua theme, icons show complex reflections, highlights and textures. In a Macworld Keynote Speech in 2000, Steve Jobs unveiled the Aqua UI. In a (somewhat intense) mission statement, Jobs described Aqua’s design as a user experience that people wanted to “lick.” Apple put considerable thought and research into user experience and began to move towards a new era of consumer software and hardware. OS X was designed and marketed as the “Dream UI” for non-computer users and employed the use of animated feedback and streamlined file viewing to “enchant” people. This amazing leap forward for the User Interface also signified the beginning of modern icon design. The icons in Mac OS X are semi-realistic with a thorough use of glossy effects and drop shadows. Helped by the new rendering size of 128 x 128 pixels and 8-bit transparency, the detail is significantly higher than in previous designs. Mac OS X also introduced new viewing guidelines, “sitting on a desk” for Application icons, “sitting on a shelf” for Utility Icons and “straighton” for Toolbar Icons. Although the interface has undergone some changes since the first Mac OS, the icons themselves have stayed close to the original guidelines.