Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, then Ignored, the First Personal Computer Paperback – 1 Jun 1999
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Now Available On-Line
Through an arrangement with a "print on demand" publisher, Fumbling The Future is now available for order through Amazon.Com as well as others. We appreciate your continuing interest in this important chapter in American business history and the history of the Personal Computer!
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In 1973, a number of researchers at Xerox PARC demonstrated the "Alto". The Alto was the first "personal computer" designed not only on a human scale for a single individual but supported by a number of improvements that rendered it "instantly responsive to the user's demands", each of them revolutionary in the computer field. They included: a graphics-oriented monitor with "icons" and overlapping "pages" on the screen that was coordinated by the "mouse" input device; a word-processing program "for nonexpert users"; a local area network, the "Ethernet"; and an object-oriented programming language that combined data with certain commands, which hugely simplified computer operations.
These attributes represented nothing less than a paradigm shift for the computer industry, away from the punch cards, unwieldy printouts of results, obscure programming codes, and the awkward time-sharing arrangements that were the hallmarks of mainframe computers. At that moment, Xerox had a full five-year head start over its future rivals. (Amazingly, PCs have changed little. with the exception of incremental improvements, from this fundamental prototype.)
Unfortunately, few at Xerox headquarters understood the importance of these developments. From its beginning, many executives at Xerox headquarters viewed PARC as a kind of uncontrollable island of insolence and arrogance. When Xerox managers visited PARC, they were struck by the rudeness and counter-cultural feel of the place.Read more ›
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