Unistrokes: Pen computing for experts

David Goldberg, Xerox Parc

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 5, 1993


Everyone learns how to use a pen in grade school. This has lead to a belief that an electronic pen is a more suitable input device than a keyboard for computers. But using a pen has a drawback for text entry: an expert can enter text no faster than a beginner. This suggests that there is a need for a pen text entry system geared to power users.

I have been studying such a system, which I call "unistrokes". Unistrokes are a specially constructed alphabet intended to be used with an electronic pen. Unistrokes are designed to have the following advantages over ordinary writing: (1) faster entry speed (2) higher legibility (3) "eyes-free" operation. Preliminary experience suggest that unistrokes are quite easy to learn.


I have been at PARC for five years, and have somewhat eclectic interests. Besides user interfaces, I am especially interested in information retrieval (and have been involved with the Tapestry project at PARC) and in floating-point (I wrote the appendix that no one reads in the computer architecture textbook by Patterson and Hennessy).


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