The widget technology we take for granted today has been over 25 years in the making. Small pieces of customized desktop and web content have made their way into our lives whether you call it an accessory, a widget, a web part, or a gadget. Below is a visual timeline of widget history and a brief summary of how some of today’s widget sectors got their start.
Widget timeline displaying major events in widget history.
Widget concepts date back to the invention of the graphical user interface for home use. Bud Tribble and Andy Hertzfeld brainstormed a concept named “desk ornaments” in 1981 for the original Macintosh operating system. These ornaments, later renamed accessories, wrapped small computing functions such as a calculator, notepad, or simple games within a single application.
In October 2000 Stardock released a new GUI engine for Windows named DesktopX. Custom objects display system information such as CPU and memory utilization, news tickers, and live updates from the Web.
The fancy widgets timeline is a much more fun way to browse the last 25 years of widget history. The biggest surprise compiling the list was just how close some related events occurred.