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
Reader dilemma: 'Our son is 34 with an IQ of 85, and spends all his time in his room. What will happen to him when we're no longer here?'
Why it matters 26 million people have changed their Facebook profile picture to a rainbow flag
What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
YouTube star Loey Lane hits back at hateful comments about ‘fat girls in bikinis’ and how plus-size women promote obesity
The age of inactivity: How laziness is killing us
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...
£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...
£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...