Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jack Goldman, Founder of Xerox PARC, Dies

Jack Goldman
Jack Goldman, in 1969, proposed that Xerox should have a research centre, just like the other big tech companies IBM and AT&T. He made the decision to locate it on the west coast, near Stanford University, and far away for Xerox's head office on the east coast. His decision was inspired and Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (or PARC) became a magnet for the techno-hippies of the Bay Area. PARC it was estimated soon employed 50% of the computer scientists in the US.
    Researchers at PARC went on to invent the graphical user interface (GUI), the mouse, networked computers (the Ethernet), postscript, the laser printer and object orientated programming. If you are using a computer today it can can trace much of its origin back to Xerox PARC. You can read the full story in Chapter 6 Deadheads and Propeller Heads of my book. The complete story of PARC is fascinating and is told in detail in Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age by Michale Hiltzik. Why Xerox didn't become the most powerful IT company in the world, bigger than Microsoft or IBM is a moot point. Some say incompetent, visionless, executives. But, hindsight gives us 20/20 vision and rather simply a photocopier company just couldn't grasp a future dominated by inexpensive software and computers.

PARC still exists and its website is here.