Xerox PARC

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Xerox PARC was the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (most usually referred to by the acronymmed short form). During its peak period of productivity in the 1970s, building on earlier thinking and work by people such as J. C. R. Licklider, Ivan Sutherland and Douglas Engelbart, it created essentially the modern computing environment. Among their most consequential and famous creations were:

  • the unification of the above into the network-centric information-handling system, with servers and workstations (the Alto).

Hints of those existed before, but PARC's unified implementation of them all (and in a way that made them cheap enough to deploy them widely) was a huge jump forward.

Although 'personal computers' had a thin but long (if now poorly remembered) history at that point (including the LINC, and ARC's 'workstation' - which did not mean then what it does now), the Alto showed what could be done when you added a bit-mapped display to which the CPU had direct access, and deployed a group of them in a network/server environment; having so much computing power available, on an individual basis, that the user could 'light their cigar with computes' radically changed everything. (Of course, the invention of the microprocessor turbo-charged that.)

Other notable creations of PARC in that period included:

The Maxc computers (clones of the PDP-10, which ran TENEX), were also produced there

Further reading

  • Michael A. Hiltzik, Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age, HarperBusiness, New York, 1999
  • Douglas K. Smith, Robert C. Alexander, Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer, William Morrow, New York, 1988

External links