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Early Soyuz Spacecraft Had a Peculiar User Interface, Says Developer Charles Simonyi

Thursday June 27, 2019. 09:00 AM , from Slashdot
Tekla Perry writes: When WYSIWIG pioneer Charles Simonyi went to space, he couldn't but help notice the awkward user interface on the rocket's control panel. It was a case of legacy systems, not wanting to change training and documentation, and an emulator that ran Unix on a 386 chip, he reported during a recent discussion on space software held at the Computer History Museum. 'They liked the older chips because of radiation resistance and the feature set,' he pointed out, noting how operation of the virtual interface was trickier than it seemed. 'There are rows and columns,' he said, 'and you move the cursor over the button and use another button to push the virtual button.'

'On the right side,' he said, 'there are these windows that are numbers you type in by pushing virtual buttons below them. You use the cursor keys to go to the virtual buttons then push an entry button that is virtual.' He added: 'You can see that even as the technology changes, they want to keep as many things the same as possible.'

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