Upcoming Talks & Events New Work & Activities On-line Talks & Interviews Biography Papers, Videos, CV,...
Recent Columns & Essays Lincoln Lab History NRC History Personal Pages Related Links

Birch Bark Canoe Project:
In the late summer of 2010, three friends and I realized a plan that was 3 years in the making:  to paddle part of the old fur trade route in Northern Saskatchewan, and to do so in traditional birch bark canoes.  Of course, you need a canoe to do so.  To learn more about the trip and the construction of the canoe, click on the picture above.

Sketching User Experiences:
Available inEnglish, Chinese and Korean. The English language book can be ordered from the normal on-line vendors such as amazon.com and chapters.ca, and is also available as an e-book for the Kindle.

Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook:
An inexpensive workbook to support the practice an learning of experience sketching is English, Chinese, German, and Korean.

Sketching UX Resources:
A web site with slide decks to teaching, videos, exercises, etc. to support teaching, practicing/, learnig & coaching.

Buxton Collection 

 The "Buxton Collection" is a collection of interactive devices that I have been collecting for about 35 years.  This site, created with my colleagues from Microsoft Research, documents the collection, and is intended as a resource for those interested in design, user experience, and the history of interaction.

Since only about 1/2 the collection is yet on-line, here is the current complete catalogue.

This is a prototype video to explore how we plan to add narratiives that link the devices in the collection.  And, mia culpa,  in the very first example, I misattribute the mouse as being from the 1982 Xerox 8010 Star workstation, whereas it is actually from the follow-up system, the Xerox 6085 "Viewpoint" workstation.  Sigh.

Bill Buxton
Principal Researcher
Microsoft Research

2 Alfresco Lawn
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M4E 1A1

Building 99/4106
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, Washington 98052

Tel: +1 (425) 722-4626 (Redmond and Toronto)



A Personal Mantra: Ultimately, we are deluding ourselves if we think that the products that we design are the "things" that we sell, rather than the individual, social and cultural experience that they engender, and the value and impact that they have. Design that ignores this is not worthy of the name.

The Case Against Lemmings and Sheep: Everything is best for something and worst for something else.  The problem is, when someone hits a home-run with one technology in one area, people try to ride on the coat-tails of that success, and indiscriminately deploy the same technology in the too-often misguided blind hope that the new deployment will achieve the same success.   We have seen this with touch interfaces, non-contact gestures, and will see it with speech.  The large number of failures that result are as inevitable as they are avoidable.  Without an equally solid understanding of both the strengths and weaknesses of the technology -  when, where, why, how, for what, and for whom it is and isnít suitable - one is gambling rather than practicing design (much less acting in the best interests of users, shareholders, or employees).

Supporting Structured & Unstructured Activity: Slate computers and e-readers represent a new class of digital appliance - one targeted for casual use. With the growth of this market will emerge  a new and long overdue approach to interaction - one that is in keeping with the casual intent and context of such usage and which will complement, rather than replace, interfaces that support more formal and structured activities.  Those interested in tracking this trend could do a lot worse than checking out the freely available application, InkSeine, from my colleague Ken Hinckley - a program that has a much closer affinity to a traditional scrap-book or Moleskine notebook than to a document processor. (June 22nd, 2010)

A quote from a recently read book that resonates well with some of the sentiments of my Long Nose of Innovation (despite being a slight mis-quote of Santayana):

Santayana taught us that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. That surely is true in design as in anything else, but in design there is a corollary: those who do know history are privileged to repeat it at a profit.
Ralph Caplan (1982), By Design, pp. 88-89)

Upcoming Talks & Events:.

In order to concentrate on my own work,  I am trying to limit speaking engagements.  However, I will post what public events I do accept here.

Selected Columns & Essays

Selected Work & Activities

On-line Talks & Interviews


Bill Buxton is a relentless advocate for innovation, design, and - especially - the appropriate consideration of human values, capacity, and culture in the conception, implementation, and use of new products and technologies.  This is reflected in his research, teaching, talks, and writing - including his column on design and innovation for BusinessWeek.com, and his 2007 book, Sketching User Experiences.

In December 2005, he was appointed Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. Prior to that, he was Principal of his own Toronto-based boutique design and consulting firm, Buxton Design.

Buxton began his career as a composer and performer, having done a Bachelor of Music degree at Queen's University. He then studied and taught for two years at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht, Holland.

In 1975 Bill started designing his own digital musical instruments.  This is what led him to the University of Toronto, where he completed an MSc in Computer Science, joined the faculty, and is still an adjunct professor.  It is also the path that brought him into the field of human-computer interaction, which is his technical area of specialty.

From 1987-89, Buxton was in Cambridge England, helping establish a new satellite of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (EuroPARC).  From 1989-94 he split his time between Toronto, where he was Scientific Director of the Ontario Telepresence Project, and Palo Alto, California, where he was a consulting researcher at Xerox PARC.

From 1994 until December 2002, he was Chief Scientist of Alias|Wavefront, (now part of Autodesk) and from 1995, its parent company SGI Inc.  In the fall of 2004, he became a part-time instructor in the Department of Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design.  In 2004/05 he was also Visiting Professor at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto.  He currently splits his time between Redmond and Toronto.

In 1995, Buxton became the third recipient of the Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society Award for contributions to research in computer graphics and human-computer interaction.  In 2000 he was given the New Media Visionary of the Year Award at the Canadian New Media Awards.  In 2001, The Hollywood Reporter named him one of the 10 most influential innovators in Hollywood.  In 2002, Time Magazine named him one of the top 5 designers in Canada.  Also in 2002, he was elected to the CHI Academy.  In October, 2005, he and Gord Kurtenbach received the "Lasting Impact Award", from ACM UIST 2005, which was awarded for their 1991 paper, Issues in Combining Marking and Direct Manipulation Techniques.  In 2008 he became the 10th recipient of the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award, "for fundamental contributions to the field of Computer Human Interaction."  In 2009 he was elected Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), for his contributions to the field of human-computer interaction, and in 2011 he became the first recipeint of the annual Grand Canadian Digital Media Pioneer Award.

Buxton has been awarded four doctorates Honoris Causa: Doctor of Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto, Ontario (June, 2007), Doctor of Laws from his alma mater, Queen's University, Kingston Ontario (June, 2009), Doctor of Industrial Design, from the Technical University of Eindhoven The Netherlands (April, 2010), where he was also appointed Distinguished Professor (October, 2010), and Doctor of Science from his alma mater, The University of Toronto (June, 2013).

From 1998-2004, Buxton was on the board of the Canadian Film Centre, and in 1998-99 chaired a panel to advise the premier of Ontario on developing long term policy to foster innovation, through the Ontario Jobs and Investment Board. He is on the advisory board of the Department of Industrial Design of the Technical University in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the President's Advisory Board of the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Advisory Council of The Mountaineer's Legends and Lore book series, and in 2018 joined the National Council of the Canadian Canoe Museum, where he is also a member of the Collections Committee. Buxton is a member of the Association of Computing Machinery and the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Outside of work, Buxton loves the outdoors. He is especially passionate about mountains, including skiing, climbing, and touring. This interest extends to the written word. He has contributed to the literature on mountain history and exploration, is an avid bibliophile, and was on the jury of the 2005 Banff Mountain Book Festival.  He is an accomplished equestrian, and in 1996 was awarded the Veteran Rider of the Year award from the Ontario Horse Trials Association, and in 2000 was named to the Talent Squad of the National Eventing Team.  In addition, he is an avid cyclist, and active in kayaking, canoeing, and windsurfing.  Finally, he has a life-long fascination with both art and his wife, the artist Elizabeth Russ, owner and operator of toronto-based Studio 888, a  gallery whose mission is the promotion of emerging local artists.

Papers, Videos, CV, ...

Personal Pages

MIT Lincoln Lab History Project

I am interested in the contribution made to interactive computing and computer graphics by the researchers at MIT's Lincoln Lab in the 1950's and 60's. Consequently, I organized a panel including some of the key protagonists at the 2005 SIGCHI Conference in Portland Oregon, and I have started a web page which is intended to be a clearing house for some of the material on and by the researchers of the group, which was mainly centred around the TX-2 computer. The page now includes a video of the panel session, including the examples. See the following work in progress:

Resource Page on Early HCI Research of the Lincoln Lab TX-2 Group

NRC of Canada History Project in Computer Music & Animation

The work in computer music and animation in the early 1970's at the National Research Council of Canada was extremely important in the field of human-computer interaction - not just music and animation.  This is where I first saw and used a computer, and that experience had a huge impact on shaping my career.  The music work, in particular, is not well known.  The following a book chapter contains a summary of the system, my personal experience using it, as well as my comments on its importance.  Through the cooperation of the NRC and especially my friend and mentor Marceli Wein, I was able to get some historic 16mm film footage of these systems digitized.  These can be viewed on my YouTube channel as follows:

Related Links:

Last updated April 9th, 2019