Boy, do I have a page for you. Return to the late 20th century when the cutting edge of human interface design was buttons, lots of buttons, more buttons on everything, and modernity was all about slapping buttons on something.
I’m sorry, but I’m not into buttons at all. I once possessed a still — not that kind, the ones you used to make pure distilled water — and it may have been a thing of archaic beauty, with a gorgeous glass coil and a reservoir tank and multiple outlet valves, but it was entirely controlled by a bank of buttons. You had to initiate the process by firing up a boiler, and then you had to open up a set of valves in a specific order by pressing buttons in the correct sequence. In particular, there was a glowing red button that had to be pushed at the right time to start the process with a lot of hissing and bubbling, and you had to check regularly because if the boiler ran dry, it was bad. And if you pressed the buttons in the wrong order, you could, for instance, let the tubes get red hot before you flushed them with cooling water, and that would be very bad, because things could shatter and then you were out a few thousand dollars and your bench was going to get flooded with broken glass and boiling hot water and steam was going to spray out everywhere.
It looked very high tech, though, with a big gray sheet metal control panel studded with buttons and indicator lights. I kind of ruined it by taping sheets of paper with handwritten arrows and warnings in different sharpie colors all over it.
Buttons are kind of stupid, I decided. Give me smart control circuitry any day, especially with something as mechanically trivial as a still.
Anyway, the worst example of button porn at that link, I think, is this one.
Even in 1981, Byte was a dinosaur of a magazine, catering to that weird world of computer hobbyists who thought a good soldering iron was a practical tool for optimizing your gear (I know, I was one of them…but I got better). Did anyone stop to wonder where our future computer watch user was going to stow the microscope and tiny needle-like stylus they’d need to use that toy? Did they still think we’d do everything from the command line with little tiny spinning magnetized disks for storage?
I greatly appreciate that my phone has one button and gigabytes of solid state storage, and that I have access to more via a little USB port and wifi. I guess, though, that a thin black slab wouldn’t have been considered very magazine-cover sexy 40 years ago.