Many years ago, I did a little research on the term “user experience,” and shared my findings on my personal site. Don Norman claimed to have invented the term back at Apple around 1993. Even earlier, in the seminal tome “User Centered Systems Design,” (published 1986) there’s a phrase about “the user’s experience can be enhanced…” I would argue, though, that’s more of happenstance joining of “user” and “experience.”
A month or so ago, Google released the Ngram Viewer for it’s books, which allows you to find out the popularity of certain terms in certain years. An Ngram search for “user experience” is quite noisy, because those two words are often next to each other, but not with the meaning that we currently ascribe to it.
Still, a little clicking around revealed something quite delightful. In 1985, in a letter to the editor of Infoworld Magazine, written by Roy Nierenberg, is the following passage:”…Thereafter, Emily Martendale and I co-developed the user interface and user “experience” of the program…”.
This is definitely the earliest I’ve seen of the phrase “user experience” in a way that accords with its current use and meaning.
Roy is still plugging away at Experience in Software.