Friday, November 22, 2013

Did a Star Trek budget shortfall lead to the iPhone and iPad interfaces?

Left: Original Star Trek series. Right: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek also may have helped create the entire image-under-glass paradigm that governs our digital world. The interface—known as LCARS—is cool-looking. It’s distinctive. And it’s actually the result of a budget shortfall.

Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t have as much money for set design as did the original series, which had panels wired with jewels and glowing buttons. Instead, they cut out sheets of film and put them over glass panes. To this day, people still modify their computers and tablets to make them look like an LCARS device from the 24th Century, by way of the late '80s.
--Roman Mars, 99% Invisible, on necessity as the mother of touchscreen invention