windows, icons, mouse, and pull-down menus (WIMP)

WIMP is an acronym describing the desktop user interface familiar to Windows and Mac computer users, significant features of which are windows, icons, a mouse, and pull-down menus. Other explanations of what the letters stand for include: window-icon-mouse-pointer and window-icon-menu-pointing device. This combination of computer-user interface ideas originated at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Laboratory, was incorporated in early Apple computers, and adopted by Microsoft in its Windows operating system, in UNIX's X Window System, in IBM's OS/2, and in other operating systems. The WIMP interface is now so familiar to most of us that it may be difficult to understand that other models for a user interface are also possible. Since learning a user interface is a personal as well as a business investment, it is likely that future user interfaces will continue to include all or parts of the WIMP environment. New user interfaces may include speech recognition and voice command interfaces, haptics devices, eye-movement detection, and new 2-D and 3-D visual models.

The New Hacker's Dictionary offers this definition (hypertext links are to our own definitions) :

n. ]acronym: `Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing device (or Pull-down menu)'[ A graphical user interface environment such as X or the Macintosh interface, esp. as described by a hacker who prefers command line interface for their superior flexibility and extensibility. However, it is also used without negative connotations; one must pay attention to voice tone and other signals to interpret correctly.

This was first published in April 2008

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