The Fruits of Civilization (10-1-1) Xerox PARC

 Xerox PARC

The photocopier company Xerox established its 2nd research center in 1969 at Palo Alto, California. Within a very few years the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) did more to advance computing technology than any entity at the time: inventing the laser printer; Ethernet, which became the standard in networking hardware; and, most significantly, the graphical user interface (GUI) that became the universal way of interacting with computers. Commercially, these were philanthropic works.

PARC developed the Xerox Alto microcomputer in 2 years (1972–1973). It was the 1st computer with a graphical user interface. To point at an object on the screen, a user moved a mouse, another PARC invention.

The Alto was not a commercial product. Xerox did not take advantage of PARC’s computing inventiveness until 1981, when it released the Star workstation.

The Xerox Star was meant as an office system, not a standalone computer. A basic system cost $75,000 ($196,000 in 2015 dollars), and $16,000 ($41,775 in 2015 dollars) for each additional workstation.

The Star price tag was too hefty, and Xerox did not know how to market computers. More damningly, the Star was not reliable, and had a slow file system. Saving a sizable document could take minutes. Only 25,000 units were ever sold.