Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Glory That Was Xerox 1

Has Apple changed the way people use technology?  Not as much as Xeorx.  Xerox was the greatest innovator in  the computer revolution.

The mouse, LCD projector, WYSIWYG, the graphic user interface, word processing, laser printer, all these things were invented by Xerox.

Chester Carlson
Founded in 1970, PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) was a research arm of the Xerox Corporation.  Xerox, which had been founded in 1906,  being named the Haloid Photographic Company had by 1970s dominated the copy machine market.  The legendary founder of Xerox, Chester Carlson had been dead for two years (1968) and the company was headed by another legend in the history of the company, Charles P. McColough, who had been CEO since 1966.

It was under McColough's leadership that PARC was formed based on the model and relationship of AT&T and Bell Labs.  PARC attracted some of the finest computer science people in the world.  It offered them complete freedom to innovate and an almost unlimited budget to do it.  They created a think-tank that was unrivaled by any other corporation.  Here are the commercials that Xerox was putting out, illustrating the thinking of the company in the 1970s.  If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link:

Here are some videos from a history of computing titled, Triumph of the Nerds done by Robert Cringely.

Here is a list of some of the more famous technologies discovered and invented at PARC:
1. Laser Printers (1971)
2.  Graphic User Interface (1975)
3.  Mouse (1975)
4.  Object Oriented Programming (1972)
first Personal Workstation Xerox
5.  Personal Computer Workstation (1973)
6.  Ethernet networks (1973)
7.  WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) which allowed you to see the layout of a document and font styles and sizes on your computer screen (19
8.  File formats (.txt, .giff, etc.)
9.  Solid State Lasers (1986)
10. VSLI circuit design (1977)
11. Worms (1978)
12. Natural Language Processing (1979)
13. Optical Storage (laserdiscs, CDR, etc.) (1980)
14, Fiber Optic Cable for use in networks (1982)
15. Encryption systems (1989)
16. Postscript (a page description language now used in most laser printers) (1971)
17. Internet Standards (1992)
18. Digital Rights Management (2000)
19. Electronic reusable paper (2000)
20. Biomedical Systems (2001)
21. LCD projector (1988)

In our next article in this series we will show you videos of an 1968 demo done by Doug Engelbart of Xerox PARC showing some things that they invented, which we take for granted today.

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