Yes, once there were knobs. Knobs, buttons and things you would manually manipulate.
This is the “screen” of the SEAT 1400, a sedan introduced in 1953:
If nothing else, it is a reminder that somehow people were once able to get by without a 10-inch screen and 2,000 icons, which is the case in the current-generation SEAT Leon, the Spanish company’s best-selling vehicle:
There is something to be said for the simple charm of the 1953 approach.–gsv