William Moggridge, portable computer and human interaction trailblazer, dies at 69

The next time you hinge open that notebook PC and smile at a feature that makes it easier to use, give a thought to Bill Moggridge, who passed away Saturday from cancer at the age of 69. The pioneering designer invented the modern clamshell design seen in all modern laptops, and is also viewed as the father of human interaction software design.

The Compass Computer he designed for Grid Systems with the screen folded over the keyboard appeared in 1981, flew on the space shuttle, and inspired virtually every notebook design since. Perhaps more importantly, when he tried to use the machine himself, Moggridge was exasperated with the difficulty and decided to take the human factor into account for software design. To that end, he engaged experts from fields like graphics design and psychology, and tried to "build empathy for the consumer into the product," according to former partner, Professor David Kelly. The pair merged their design firms to form Ideo in 1991, and worked with clients like Apple, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble, designing products like the first Macintosh mouse and Palm V handheld along the way.

In 2010, Moggridge became the director of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York, and was a recipient of that institution's lifetime achievement award. He also won the Prince Philip Designer's Prize, the longest running award of its type in the UK, given for "a design career which has upheld the highest standards and broken new ground." See why that's true by going to Cooper-Hewitt's tribute video, right after break.