Vice President, Rational Continuous Engineering Solutions
IBM Software Group
Some innovations are so pervasive that we never ask ourselves where they came from. We don't ask ourselves "who woke up one morning with an idea so elegant and useful that it became a defacto standard in how we create and use software?" One example of this is the "Progress Bar".
This is a great article on the creation of the Progress Bar. In 1986, Bob Stahl, an interface designer, wrote that "The problem is how the user feels about waiting.". This recognition on the perception of the user was very forward thinking in 1986. At a similar time, a graduate student named Brad Myers presented a paper on the importance of progress indicators. Since that time, progress indicators have shown up in every platform and every device we use. The irony is that since 1986, CPU performance has improved roughly 3.5 orders of magnitude and yet we are still waiting!