University of Maryland


Founded in 1983 by Ben Shneiderman, the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) has followed the arc of human-computer interaction from its inception to its current influential role in computing. At a time when emergent personal computers and office technologies were broadening the base of who used computers, it seemed essential to address design issues, the transformation of jobs, and effects on society.

HCIL History History of the field

Below, we highlight several videos and interactive presentations that share some of the accomplishments of lab faculty and students over the last four decades.

Read the 2022 story about the early days of Information Visualization at the University of Maryland, by Ben Shneiderman and Catherine Plaisant.

35 years of HCIL, and headshots of prominent faculty at HCIL
Slides from the 35 Years of the HCIL Symposium (2018)
Interactions logo.

Read the 2013 ACM Interactions series of articles about the HCIL’s history and work (or see the tech report copy). This article was written to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the HCIL.


Watch the 2013 video highlighting the work of HCIL faculty affiliated with Computer Science – produced by UMIACS (the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies).


Watch the 25th anniversary video from 2008 with interviews of key members of the lab:


Ben Shneiderman, Ed., Sparks of Innovation in Human-Computer Interaction, (1993)
A collection of two dozen key papers from the HCIL demonstrating the development of the field of HCI during its first decade.


Read more about early HCIL research themes: hypertext, touchscreen interaction, and more.


Jessica Vitak Appointed Director
8th HCIL Director
iSchool Associate Professor Jessica Vitak is named director of the HCIL.

Niklas Elmqvist Appointed Director
7th HCIL Director
Associate Professor Niklas Elmqvist takes over as HCIL Director.

June Ahn Appointed Director
6th HCIL Director
June Ahn, Assistant Professor in the iSchool and College of Education, is named director of the HCIL.

Mona Leigh Guha Appointed Interim Director
5th HCIL Director
Research Associate and HCIL PhD alum Mona Leigh Guha is named interim director of the HCIL.

The Nick App Wins Emmy
Allison Druin, Kidsteam
The Nickelodeon app, created with input from Kidsteam (including the Do Not Touch button), is honored with a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – User Experience and Visual Design.

HCIL 30th Anniversary
The HCIL celebrates 30 years at the University of Maryland, commemorated with a Distinguished Lecture Series and a celebration at the Annual Symposium, as well as a history written by some of the lab’s key members.

Hackerspace Opens
Jon Froehlich
The Hackerspace opens in the HCIL, providing a hands-on workspace for students to experiment and create with new technology.

HCIM Program Formed
Allison Druin, Jen Golbeck
The Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction accepts its first cohort in this year, bringing new student energy and integrating teaching more fully into the lab.

Future of Information Alliance Launches
Allison Druin, Ira Chinoy, Anne Rose
The Future of Information Alliance aims to identify opportunities and challenges around the rapidly evolving role of information, and serve as a catalyst for discussion, research, and action at UMD and beyond.

Jen Golbeck Appointed Director
4th HCIL Director
During Golbeck’s tenure as director of the HCIL, the iSchool institutes a Master’s program in Human-Computer Interaction and celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Allison Druin, Ben Bederson, Elizabeth Bonsignore
StoryKit is a user-friendly app for creating multimedia stories, appealing especially to younger users.

HCIL’s 25th Anniversary
The Lab celebrates its 25th anniversary, commemorated in a short video interview with key lab members.

Ben Shneiderman, Derek Hansen, Marc A. Smith
NodeXL is a free, open-source tool for network analysis and visualization.

Allison Druin Appointed Director
3rd HCIL Director
Allison Druin takes on leadership of the lab, overseeing the transition of the lab to a new home in the Hornbake Library and instituting membership requirements that help grow the lab’s support and community.

International Children’s Digital Library Launches
Tim Browne, Allison Druin, Ben Bederson, Ann Carlson Weeks
A multilingual collection of children’s books, the ICDL is now the largest virtual library of its kind in the world.

Classroom of the Future
Allison Druin, Kidsteam
This five-year NSF-sponsored grant project explores the future of educational technology, evaluating kindergarten classrooms and prototyping technologies with young children to be used in the classroom.

Temporal Visualization of Numeric & Categorical Data
Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant
An ongoing investigation into visualizing data temporally, which will yield tools such as LifeLines and EventFlow.

Ben Bederson Appointed Director
2nd HCIL Director
Ben Bederson takes over leadership of the HCIL, overseeing a number of changes, including the redesign of the logo and the start of the Brown Bag Lunch series, which continues today.

Jaime Montemayor, Allison Druin, Jim Hendler, Kidsteam
The Personal Electronic Teller of Stories is a robotic pet that can support children in the storytelling process.

PhotoFinder and PhotoMesa
Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant, Ben Bederson
A series of tools for personal photo library tagging, exploration, and management, including PhotoFinder and PhotoMesa.

Kidsteam Begins
Allison Druin, Kidsteam Kids
Kidsteam begins designing collaboratively with young users, involving children in the evaluation and prototyping process.

Visible Human Explorer
Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant, Chris North, Philip Korn
Software created in collaboration with the NIH National Library of Medicine to display a collection of anatomical images from the library’s archive.

Electronic Classrooms: Teaching/Learning Theater
Kent Norman, Ben Shneiderman
A project exploring the role of technology in the college classroom, developing a series of electronic classrooms on the UMD campus.

Ben Shneiderman, Christopher Ahlberg
Research to create dynamic queries sliders, direct manipulation interfaces for data explorations, a tool that gains commercial success as Spotfire.

Catherine Plaisant, Ben Shneiderman, Gouthami Chintalapani, Aleks Aris
Treemaps are an approach to visualizing space-contained hierarchical data using a set of nested rectangles.

High-Precision Touch Screens
Catherine Plaisant, Ben Shneiderman
This project developed high-precision touch screens for small keyboards and home control devices, based on lift-off technology.

Hypertext on Hypertext
Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant
Published for ACM, Hypertext on HyperText contains the entire July 1988 Communications of the ACM special issue on hypertext systems.

Ben Shneiderman, Catherine Plaisant
Early, formative work to develop selectable clickable links for hypertext applications.

HCIL Open House
1st Annual
The HCIL holds its first annual Open House, inviting researchers, professionals, and members of the public to learn about Lab members’ work, which continues today as Symposium.

HCIL Founded
Ben Shneiderman
At the invitation of Azriel Rosenfeld, Ben Shneiderman founds the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory as part of the interdisciplinary Center for Automation Research (CfAR). The HCIL soon becomes part of the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).