XeroxPARC refined this (as well as a host of other technologies) in the late 70s and early 80s, then Apple took this and made it into the Lisa and then Macintosh, which was then followed by MicroSoft's Windows, which is still behind the early Mac in terms of usability, in my opinion. They also came out with the AppleNewton, the first HandHeld with HandwritingRecognition and the first instance of HandwritingRecognition in consumer-level computing. Beyond IBM's ViaVoice?, there's been no consumer-level VoiceRecognition for regular computing, although it exists for expanding the UserInterface for CellPhones. (CellPhones need voice "training" to get them to recognize one voice, which hinders their ability to recognize other voices. The necessity of training is part of the reason the AppleNewton HandHeld wasn't successful, and the Graffiti shorthand of PalmOS and the user training to be understood by the computer is part of the success of PalmOS.)
But this is in general aspects of UserInterface, not specifics. Apple did a lot of research into user interface for Macintosh, and published a book of UserInterface guidelines that were made into the AntiMacInterface and used by NealStephenson as a guiding document for SnowCrash.
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