I am doing some research on the topic of learnability within usability. I am currently struggling to find out who was the first one to use it in this context?
Any help would be really appreciated.
The earliest reference I could find was from the seminal 1983 book "The psychology of human-computer interaction" by Stuart K. Card, Thomas P. Moran and Allen Newell.
I don't have a copy of the full text, but perhaps your library does.
I know its referenced in ISO/IEC 9126. As far as who introduced it, I believe it was Jacob Nielsen. I was unable to find a concrete source, but several secondary sources reference him when discussing the topic. It could have also been Professor Ben Shneiderman:
The second definition is described as:
ISO 9126 also references "learnability", via Wikipedia:
This seems to fall more in line with the second definition from the Measuring Usability article.
For how and who it was first introduced into the lexicon, you will need to pick which definition you want to use (also, there may be other definitions that I didn't find).
In the case of the first definition, you'd probably be safe to assume Nielsen introduced it himself. That's an assumption though; he doesn't site where he may have heard it before though.
In the case of the second definition, it falls back to the basic definition of "learn". From The Free Dictionary definition:
... so when did "learn" first enter the language. If we go down this path, Online Etymology gives us a few clues. It only mentions the origins of "learn" back to old English (i.e., really long ago), but does list the appearance of "learnable" as somewhere in the 1620's:
But as to who first uttered the word "learnability" while speaking about usability, I am unaware. I'd argue it is simply a natural use of the word in the context of a practice in the case of the second definition.
In my research I have found a reference to Learnabity from 1976. It apperaed in the following article:
The article "A Survey of Software Learnability: Metrics, Methodologies and Guidelines" by Tovi Grossman also suggests that this might be the oldest reference to learnability within HCI.