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Cognitive engineering was an engineering method used in the 1970s at Bell Labs, focused on how people form a cognitive model of a system based upon common metaphors. As explained by Joseph Henry Condon:
The idea is that people form a model. You present them with some instruments, tools, like a faucet, electric stove or something like that and demonstrate how it works. They then form in their heads a model that shows how it works inside to help them remember how to use it in the future. It may be a totally erroneous model of what is going on inside the black box.
Don Norman cited principles of cognitive engineering in his 1981 article, "The truth about Unix: The user interface is horrid." Norman criticized the user interface of Unix as being "a disaster for the casual user."
- "Joseph H. Condon". Princeton University History of Science.
- Norman, Don (1981). "The truth about Unix: The user interface is horrid" (PDF). Datamation (27(12)).
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