A TO Z OF THE DIGITAL WORLD
Monday 15 July 1996
Xerox Parc was set up in the Seventies to provide new computing ideas. The trouble was, it wasn't good at using them or keeping them to itself, despite employing such top scientists as Alan Kay (who developed the laptop) and Doug Englebart (inventor of the mouse).
One products was the Alto, an "intuitive" computer with a graphical interface. But it needed $100,000 of hardware to work. Not surprisingly, the marketing department felt it wouldn't fly.
Down the street was a small company called Apple, where Steve Wozniak, wanted to create a machine to enable people to work with information in new ways. He arranged to give Xerox a block of stock options in exchange for a tour of Parc and a demonstration of the Alto. He went on to create the Mac, which embodied the Alto's advances: a mouse, windows and an intuitive graphical interface. Xerox Parc is a lot more careful about keeping research to itself, but has never regained the mantle it acquired in those days. The title is spread among people at Apple and MIT's Media Lab.
The shortsightedness of Xerox is set out in Fumbling the future: how Xerox invented, then ignored, the first personal computer by Douglas Smith and Robert Alexander (William Morrow, 1988). If you're thinking of setting up a blue-skies computer research centre, read this first.
Life & Style blogs
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary
PTSD photo series documents what the disorder is really like – as study reveals suicides of 22 US veterans every day
Facebook to test 747-sized drones that will beam broadband to the entire world
The distress of some Zayn Malik fans is real, and they need support, say experts
The truth about student sex workers: it's far from Belle Du Jour
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
- 5 Zayn Malik quits One Direction: Hundreds of workers request compassionate leave following band member's exit
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...