Preston de Guise wrote a very interesting post on how Sci-Fi interfaces have changed over the years. He concludes as follows in The changing face of computers on screen:
The shift was profound yet entirely subtle, something that a lot of people wouldn’t have really noticed at all – we shifted from portraying computer hardware to portraying computer software. […]
At some point, fiction and the future aligned, and the way in which computers were presented changed to being all about the interface – the software. This was of course just holding up a mirror to society in general: since computers have been around, their usage model has been undergoing a significantly powerful evolution from being a specific tool to being a general purpose piece of equipment; the logical continuance from a “piece of equipment” is an appliance, and that’s the era we’re starting to straddle into now, thanks in no small part to interfaces such as iOS.
Preston includes some great movie screenshots to make his case, so it’s definitely worth reading the whole article. For more, check out the collection of movie UIs in Ridiculous User Interfaces In Film, and the Man Who Designs Them. And here’s a highlight reel of Mark Coleran’s UI work in various movies:
For bonus points (and if you don’t mind random pagination and small white text on a grey background), check out the Top 10 Worst Portrayals of Technology in Film.