Lightning and Thunder: The Early Days of Interactive Information Visualization at the University of Maryland

IEEE Comput Graph Appl. 2022 Jul-Aug;42(4):103-113. doi: 10.1109/MCG.2022.3180012.


The thrill of scientific discovery, the excitement of engineering development, and the fresh thinking of design explorations were invigorating as we participated in the birth of a new discipline: Information Visualization. This discipline, based on graphical user interfaces with pointing devices, became possible as software matured, hardware sped up, and screen resolution improved. Driven by the concepts of direct manipulation and dynamic queries, we made interactive interfaces that empowered users and opened up new possibilities for the next generation of designers. We worked with professionals who had real problems and tested real users to get their feedback. Some projects failed and some papers never got published, but many of the new ideas found their way into widely used commercial products. Our great satisfaction is that our students have spread the community spirit of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory as they continue to make further contributions.

MeSH terms

  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Lightning*
  • Software