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Location: GUIs > Windows > Windows 1983 Comdex Demo

Microsoft Windows at Fall Comdex 1983

Microsoft Windows Comdex 1983 logo

Dan Bricklin, the co-creater of VisiCalc, posted a YouTube video of a walk through of the Fall 1983 Comdex . One of the more prominent features is a demonstration of the yet unreleased Microsoft Windows.

To set the stage: The Xerox Star was old news, Visi On was announced the year before, and Apple was already shipping the Lisa. The buzzwords of the day revolved around user friendliness and office integration. The unveiling of the Macintosh and the official release of Visi On were just around the corner.

The most stunning thing about this video is how much more complete Windows looks than compared to the December 1983 Byte Magazine article. This video was supposedly taken before that on November 23, 1983. It takes time to get an article in to a printed magazine, even more so back then, but the differences seem staggering.

Here is a direct link to the relevant part of the full video: Fall Comdex 1983 Part 3 of 3 (starts at about 7 minutes in)

There is also a shorter excerpt video here:  Fall Comdex 1983 Excerpts

Windows Comdex Desktop

The demo starts with all windows closed, but a number of programs running, minimized to icons in an area at the bottom of the screen.

There are a number of paint programs open with different images. A text editor, clock, and sample calendar are also running. It is possible to drag the icons around.

They refer to the icon as the smallest form of a window. The clock icon appears to indicate the current time. In the icon area, the cursor takes on a different form.

The Byte magazine demo did not show any icons at all. It also did not appear to have a clock or paint program.

Widnows Comdex Single Window
As windows open, they do not cover the icon area.

The Byte demo used the entire screen.

Windows Comdex Tiled Windows
As windows are opened, they "tile" in order to utilize all of the screen space.

Windows Comdex Windowing Buttons
Clicking on the title bar, or what they call the "caption bar" shows several additional windowing buttons.

- Maximizes the window, but does not cover the icon area.
- Moves the window to the side of the screen, tiled vertically.
- Initiates a vertical resize
- "Kill". Terminates the application session.
- Help (in upper right, not demonstrated).

These were not present in the Byte demo, and do not appear in any known later versions.

Windows Comdex Resize..Windows Comdex Resize..Windows Comdex Resize..Windows Comdex Resize
The presence of these buttons suggested that perhaps dragging window borders was not implemented yet. However just before the demo (on a different monitor) we see a mouse cursor move to a window border, a thin vertical resize bar appears, and then the windows repaint to the new size.

During the demo, they emphasize that Windows provides layout such as menu arrangement, instead of being controlled by each individual application. Applications redraw their content to fit the new window when resized.

Windows Comdex Full Screen
Windows can also resize to cover the icon area.

Windows Comdex Menus
The Byte demo showed a single persistent menu area at the bottom of the screen with a long list of options. That way of doing things was consistent with other DOS applications of the day.

In this version, each window has its own menu at the top. The menus are still stuffed with options, and do not use the "File" menu organization.

Instead of sub menu options displaying a completely new menu in the menu area, this version has drop down menus. Or "Pop Down" menus as they call them.