The Quotrons: Inspiration for a UEX Developer

I often wonder, why do people use computers or smartphones at the first place? what is so special about these machines? Besides, they are expensive and often demand electric charging.

I mean, whatever information we need, is in the books, we can always ask directions to locals, and if we need some peace of mind, the thinnest device we can use is always a library card.

Now let me tell you the ancient story behind it. The revolution began with the Quotrons.


Quotron, a Los Angeles-based company, became, in 1960, the first financial data technology company to deliver stock market quotes to an electronic screen

Early in the 1980’s, the use of electronic systems to collect and display business  information  were becoming very popular. we had computers at every important building. We had computers everywhere: in stock markets, police stations, banks and malls. The company named Quotron systems, was able to show information using a digital screen, and update this information in real time. At 1960, it was a big step ahead, which ensured the growth of information technology (IT) industry till date.

Before the quotrons, computers looked more like this: electronic typewriters, where people had no idea what they are doing until its on paper. But now people could see updated information on a screen. Because of this feature, the company had so many systems sold, that at a point, any commercial computers in use were referred as Quotrons.

The basic usage of a Quotron would be one of these:

  1. Enter the statistical data into a digital format, using an electronic typewriter.
  2. Store this entered information in some encoded form using electronic devices.
  3. Share this information among the other Quotron machines by means of connecting wires.
  4. Update the on-screen information in real-time, using the wired network.

Wait, what did they say? they could update the information in real time? Well of course, we can do the first three tasks using simple pen and paper. But we do not have any paper invented that can change the information written all by itself! That is just like magic!

The magic behind software is in the interactivity!

This ‘magical’ ability became particularly useful for computer programmers. Now they were able to write the program on the screen, and see the result on the same screen ! Now, they don’t have to wait for weeks to see if their program worked or not, they could see it in real time on a screen. This inspired companies like IBM to create CASE tools for their programmers, making programming easier for later generations.

Good for programmers. However, what’s in it for the typical non-tech user?

The key is in the hands of a User Experience (UEX) Developer. The software present on these devices needs to be interactive. Even the Quotrons had keyboards to change the information when the user needed. This led to the PC industry revolution, and now the same phenomenon is driving the smartphone industry. The magic is in the fact that people can interact with the information as well as hey see it. The choice of customized views, themes and different layouts is always a plus for any application.Add interactivity and customization to your software because that’s why people buy their $400 device at the first place.

And if you need some more inspiration, we can always look back again at the history.

Thanks for reading.


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