Flatpanel Computer Interface - Smart Building Console
Concept, interactional architecture, graphic design, storyboards / prototype by Jim Leftwich, IDSA - Orbit Interaction
©1985 - Jim Leftwich / Orbit Interaction - All Rights Reserved

In late 1984 I'd been out of design school for one year and was stuck in the Midwest with not very many design opportunities, other than designing some computer typesetting software and freelancing. I wanted to pursue product design, but I was also very interested in computers, having worked with programmable calculators since the early 1970s and worked with early Apple ][+ models in 1981/82.

When I first saw the Macintosh, it was like an epiphany for me. I managed to mortgage my old Chevrolet Camaro to buy one of the first 128k models. I used it for dozens of design projects from 1985 through 1990, including this flatpanel computer, OS GUI, and Smart Building application in 1985.

All the conceptualization was done by myself alone. I was poor and freelancing, working part-time days in a record store and coming back to a house I shared with several other people and working late into the night on this model. My friends at the time thought I was completely mad, but I knew that Interaction Design was the future. My future.

The project was done for my portfolio, as I knew I needed to leave the Kansas City area if I was going to get an opportunity to do product and software design.

I ended up in Dallas, Texas, where I did manage to begin design consulting, specializing in the interactive aspects of consumer electronics, medical, and industrial equipment.

My approach to Interaction Design has been self-taught, but has been based on a solid, traditional, iteratively explore-and-model approach common to architecture and industrial design.

By approaching interaction as a wholistic design endeavor as opposed to a reductive "usability process", I've been able to make much greater and more successful intuitive leaps, which combined with experience has led to the development of a range of ideas, products, and systems quite a bit broader than is common in most specialized "interface design" careers.

Click on images to view full-size



1985 - Flatpanel Computer
Physical articulated foamcore model,
OS - PUI/GUI, SmartBuilding Management
and CallCenter Software

Shown with Flatpanel Screen Up

1985 - Flatpanel Computer

Shown with Flatpanel Screen Down (automatic sleep mode)

1985 - Flatpanel Computer

Closeup view of screen tilt bellows Right / Left Positionable Keypad

1985 - Flatpanel Computer

CursorPuck and Click control connectors
(swappable / two-handed for speed)

1985 - Flatpanel Computer

Back of CPU - Connectors / Glyphs
(all graphics created on 128k Mac)

1985 - Flatpanel Computer

OS / GUI Software
Storyboarded Screen Sequences

Screen 1

Screen 2

Screen 3

Screen 4

Screen 5

Screen 6

Screen 7

1985 - Flatpanel Computer

OS / GUI Software
Storyboarded Screen Sequences Slide Show

(all graphics created on 128k Mac)

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