Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age
While Gates, Jobs, and the other big boys of Silicon Valley are basking in the glory of the information age, renowned Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hiltzik reveals how, back in the early '70s, a group of inventors at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) blazed the trail for all of today's indispensable technology from the PC ...more
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The most interesting part about this is seeing what really happened with Xerox and the first GUI PCs. It's not that they let the opportunity slip through their fingers, they were never the right company to produce an OS in the first place.
Still, it worked out well for virtually all ...more
"This did not mean that great discoveries, even surprising ones, will not be made here and there by researchers working for corporations. It simply means that a certain quality once possessed by PARC in its extraordinary early years seems to have departed from the world of science and technology, perhaps forever. Call it magic."
Not my favorite book; read for class. It wasn't that it was bad, it just wasn't for me and didn't really capture my interest. However, it gives ...more
Relatedly, I can feel some sympathy for the executives at Xerox. The standard narrative is that their Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) developed all of the big ideas of modern desktop computing (mouse, ethernet connection, desktop GUI, laser printing) under their noses, but ...more
"Computing is pop culture. […] Pop culture holds a disdain for history. Pop culture is all
about identity and feeling like you’re participating. It has nothing to do with cooperation,
the past or the future — it’s living in the present. I think the same is true of most
people who write code for money. They have no idea where [their culture came from]…"
- Alan Kay
We stand on the shoulders of giants. I swear to never forget this. Writing code for me now, will be a spiritual experience. I atleast hope ...more
Back in the mid-60s, Xerox decided they wanted to compete with IBM and AT&T by developing their own research labs in the hopes of winning prestige and a possible Nobel or two, just like Bell Labs did. They set PARC up with a virtually ...more
For a time, PARC was Computer Gee ...more
- Hire the best people
- Give them a long leash
- Force them to interact
Ethernet is a good example -- Bob Metcalfe was stringing coaxial cable through the PARC basement when he bumped ...more
-desktop computing w/ GUI - mouse, windowing, all that
-object oriented programming (smalltalk)
-probably more stuff I'm forgetting
Truly a remarkable place, and a tragic story for Xerox. Their clueless corporate management and stultifying resistance to change kept them from truly realizing the commercial potential for most of these things. They could have OWNED computing in the 90's and beyond. Instead th ...more
Hiltzik describes the origins of Ethernet, the laser printer, overlapping desktop windows, and the mouse, most of which would only reach the public via Apple Co ...more
I knew that the Xerox PARC had been important (I saw Pirates of Silicon Valley), but before reading this book I had no idea how much. The did invent the future, all right: personal computing, graphical user interfaces, object-oriented programming, WYSIWYG editors, Ethernet, laser printing, VLSI chip design - the list goes on and on. There's even the suggestion that a protocol developed at PARC influenced TCP/IP. I was particularly i ...more
The PARC guys are inspi ...more
If you read any amount of computer history, you invariably hear about the mythical research done at Xerox PARC, and of course the demo of the technology to the people at Apple. This book does a great job at getting to the truth of the matter, and is an interesting history of a bunch of brilliant researchers and the innovative work that they did.
We learn about the creation of many technologies we take for granted today, and the people behind them. We also learn about how the people and ideas serv...more
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