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back to article PARC turns 40: mice, money, and the new interwebs

Mention "Xerox" and "PARC," and you'll likely be greeted by a rolling of the eyes or an off-hand comment like: "Didn't they invent the mouse and let Microsoft make all the money?" That happened to me more than once when I mentioned I was heading to the Palo Alto Research Center to interview a few folks for the iconic institution …

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similar

the idea seems similar, though more akin to a dynamically routed CDN where content as discrete chunks is distributed (wrapped in whatever protection the publishers want) and retrieved seamlessly ... bittorrent does this but at a much lower level on chunks within a file and isn't seamless to the other apps - media players etc.

LiveStation is an example of this being used for broadcast - http://blog.offbeatmammal.com/post/2008/09/15/Is-Peer-to-Peer-the-platform-for-next-generation.aspx

Ironically while this may help the telcos squeeze more out of the wire it probably won't reduce our bills... unless there is a way to account for the fact we're uploading "local" copies to our CCN neighbours and they're downloading from us and not incurring backhaul or interconnect fees we'll probably still get charged by the byte...

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FAIL

Only if the security model

can be changed from any idiot w/o a clue to a persistent, end-to-end connection security model. once you think you've cracked that, then apply to all computers connected including your Grandmas and Grandpas and parent who don't get a @£$%^ about security, and feh, of course it'll work....

anything less reverts to chaos, the same as today!

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An interesting journey.

From (roughly) the Bell Labs model to (roughly) the QuintiQ model.

However unlike Q they were never military and never had the military bent.

I hope they continue *not* having a military bent.

Xerox orientation (funding a lab for the future then doing everything to protect BAU) is remarkably like some British companies.

With rather similar long term results.

I liked the Plaques. The data goes with *you* not whatever hardware you happened to be holding at the time.

A decade later that *still* seems pretty revolutionary.

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Unfortunately...

A streamlined commercial operation rarely creates the innovative climate that PARC must have been. So the article sounds like a long goodbye to creative PARC and a warm hello to PARC.Inc.

Face it, most people go through their creative phase when they have the freedom of chaos and only some inspired people move on to turn that creativity into money via the long dull process of work.

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History is Bunk

Sorry. Some of your history is bunk.

The mouse was invented and patented by Doug Engelbart of Stanford Research Institute in 1964 to use with the GUI of his NLS interactive office system.

The first object-oriented programming language was Simula (1967).

Digital Equiment Corporation shipped its first computer in 1958.

Plenty happened before the 1970 ground-breaking ceremony for PARC shown in your picture...

On the bright side, some of the other stuff in your article is correct, and Xerox did take these ideas to new heights.

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Check your facts...

"Worse for PARC: 3Com, Adobe, and Digital Equipment Corp were formed by former PARC staffers who'd left out of frustration..."

DEC was formed by Ken Olsen and Harlan Anderson, out of MIT. In 1957.

Maybe they hired a few PARCies 25 years later...

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DEC?

Erm I think you will find DEC predates PARC by a decade or so and was a spinoff from an MIT research lab on the other side of the continent.

Having said that I think the "XEROX invented it than didnt sell it" story is overdone. This industry does not reward pioneers and innovators. Osbourne created the first portable, VIsicalc the first spreadsheet, Ingress the first commercial RDBMS, CPM the first PC OS, ATARI the first dedicated games machine, Wang the first word processor , DEC the first search engine etc, etc, These innovators are all now defunct in spite of creating billion dollar markets which are domiated by MS, Sony and Oracle etc.

I acttually worked with a "Xerox PC" and very nice it was too, the word processor is still one of the best I have ever come across. However they were locked into a "multiple micro" 8 bit 8080 processor archictecture. They overcame the contemporary hardware limitations by designing an OS which used multple processors and mutilple address "segments" to overcome the 64K address space limitations. This approach lost viability when the 386 processor was released - It was simply too much work to re-write the OS for a single 16 bit processor.

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Who knew that PARC invented time travel?

Digital Equipment Corp, which introduced the PDP-1 in 1959, was founded by refugees from Xerox PARC, which was established in 1970? Must be time travel.

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Digital Equipment Corp

"Worse for PARC: 3Com, Adobe, and Digital Equipment Corp were formed by former PARC staffers.."

For DEC at least, that's not how I remember it.

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Boffin

"world's first object-oriented programming language"

Was Simula, not Smalltalk.

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Dead Vulture

DEC?

Since Digital Equipment Corp was founded in the late 1950s on the East Coast, and PARC didn't open until 1970 on the West Coast, it could not be possible that DEC was founded by ex-PARC staff.

A history lesson might be in order.

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Digital Equipment Corp?

DEC a PARC spin-off? Huh? DEC was formed in 1957. That's a quite bit more than 40 years ago.

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I worked for Xerox Research Cambridge

..before it was closed. Despite it being at least the third reinvention since 'creating the mouse' and some time after the infamous book, they still had deep rooted problems getting ideas from cute demos to product. Worse still, they weren't even that successful at creating IP.

It seemed a peculiarly Cambridge issue at the time (big brains, not business brains), but the research culture was PARCs export. That it suited the Cambridge ethos rather well hid the underlying failure.

As the article points out, PARCs future success does indeed depend on it working out how to streamline the development from idea to delivery. However, Xerox was aware ten years ago that the challenge is embodying clever ideas in a compelling product rather than having the ideas in the first place. Finding the magic formula (and great teams) to achieve that will require more than just imposing business process and targets.

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Coat

Hehe...

"They know they have these huge problems - like the mobile back hole" ... -Fnarr Fnarr!

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Headmaster

Ahem, the mouse as a patented device as we know it today!

Belonged to Steve Kirsch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mouse_Systems who made hundreds of millions off of the royalties with MSC.....

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Dead Vulture

PARC also invented Time Travel

That former PARC employee who went off to form DEC? Apparently PARC (1970) also invented time travel and kept it to themselves, DEC (1957). Great Scott!

/me shakes fist at PARC

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