It amazes me how much important applied research came out of AT&T.
Obituary for John E. Karlin, the man who designed the layout of the telephone keypad – and, more importantly, was one of the founders of what we today call user experience research. Karlin was a research psychologist (!) at Bell Labs, the first psychologist they hired, who studied what shapes of phone keypad made for the easiest, most accurate dialing; how long phone cords should be; and whether people could usefully remember and dial seven-digit numbers. Not only did he deeply influence the design of everyday objects, he helped point 20th-century design in the direction of focusing, first and foremost, on how users would actually respond to a particular industrial design. Our modern methods and approaches are the direct descendants of his work.

h/t +Chris Jones for the link.
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