Human-computer interaction (HCI) is an area of research and practice that emerged in the early 1980s, initially as a specialty area in computer science embracing cognitive science and human factors engineering. HCI has expanded rapidly and steadily for three decades, attracting professionals from many other disciplines and incorporating diverse concepts and approaches. To a considerable extent, HCI now aggregates a collection of semi-autonomous fields of research and practice in human-centered informatics. However, the continuing synthesis of disparate conceptions and approaches to science and practice in HCI has produced a dramatic example of how different epistemologies and paradigms can be reconciled and integrated in a vibrant and productive intellectual project.
2.1 Where HCI came from
Until the late 1970s, the only humans who interacted with computers were information technology professionals and dedicated hobbyists. This changed disruptively with the emergence of personal computing in the later 1970s. Personal computing, including both personal software (productivity applications, such as text editors and spreadsheets, and interactive computer games) and personal computer platforms (operating systems, programming languages, and hardware), made everyone in the world a potential computer user, and vividly highlighted the deficiencies of computers with respect to usability for those who wanted to use computers as tools.
The challenge of personal computing became manifest at an opportune time. The broad project of cognitive science, which incorporated cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, cognitive anthropology, and the philosophy of mind, had formed at the end of the 1970s. Part of the program of cognitive science was to articulate systematic and scientifically informed applications to be known as "cognitive engineering". Thus, at just the point when personal computing presented the practical need for HCI, cognitive science presented people, concepts, skills, and a vision for addressing such needs through an ambitious synthesis of science and engineering. HCI was one of the first examples of cognitive engineering.