HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

PARC (Palo Alto Research Center; formerly Xerox PARC) is a
research and development Research and development (R&D or R+D), known in Europe as research and technological development (RTD), is the set of innovative activities undertaken by corporations or governments in developing new services or products, and improving existi ...
company in
Palo Alto, California Palo Alto (; Spanish language, Spanish for "tall stick") is a charter city in the northwestern corner of Santa Clara County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area, named after a Sequoia sempervirens, coastal redwood tree kno ...
. Founded in 1969 by Jacob E. "Jack" Goldman, chief scientist of Xerox Corporation, the company was originally a division of
Xerox Xerox Holdings Corporation (; also known simply as Xerox) is an American corporation that sells print and electronic document, digital document products and services in more than 160 countries. Xerox is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut (ha ...
, tasked with creating computer technology-related products and hardware systems. Xerox PARC has been at the heart of numerous revolutionary computer developments, including
laser printing Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a Electric charge, negatively-charged cylinder call ...
,
Ethernet Ethernet () is a family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks (LAN), metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN). It was commercially introduced in 1980 and first standardized in 198 ...
, the modern
personal computer A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose microcomputer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or techn ...
, GUI (
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, interact with electronic devices through graphical icon (comp ...
) and desktop paradigm,
object-oriented programming Object-oriented programming (OOP) is a programming paradigm based on the concept of " objects", which can contain data In the pursuit of knowledge, data (; ) is a collection of discrete values that convey information, describing qua ...
, ubiquitous computing,
electronic paper Electronic paper, also sometimes electronic ink, e-ink or electrophoretic display, are display devices that mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional flat panel displays that emit light, an electronic paper display ref ...
, a-Si (
amorphous silicon Amorphous silicon (a-Si) is the non-crystalline form of silicon used for solar cells and thin-film transistors in liquid-crystal display, LCDs. Used as semiconductor material for a-Si solar cells, or thin-film silicon solar cells, it is deposi ...
) applications, the
computer mouse A computer mouse (plural mice, sometimes mouses) is a hand-held pointing device that detects two-dimensional space, two-dimensional motion relative to a surface. This motion is typically translated into the motion of a pointer (user interface ...
, and VLSI (
very-large-scale integration Very large-scale integration (VLSI) is the process of creating an integrated circuit (IC) by combining millions or List_of_Nvidia_graphics_processing_units#Volta_series , billions of MOS transistors onto a single chip. VLSI began in the 1970s wh ...
) for
semiconductor A semiconductor is a material which has an electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between that of a electrical conductor, conductor, such as copper, and an insulator (electricity), insulator, such as glas ...
s. Unlike Xerox's existing research laboratory in Rochester, New York, which focused on refining and expanding the company's copier business, Goldman's “Advanced Scientific & Systems Laboratory” aimed to pioneer new technologies in advanced physics, materials science, and computer science applications. In 2002, Xerox spun off Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary.


History

In 1969, Goldman talked with George Pake, a
physicist A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate caus ...
specializing in
nuclear magnetic resonance Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is a physical phenomenon in which atomic nucleus, nuclei in a strong constant magnetic field are perturbed by a weak oscillating magnetic field (in the near and far field, near field) and respond by producing ...
and provost of Washington University in St. Louis, about starting a second research center for Xerox. On July 1, 1970, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center opened. Its 3,000-mile distance from Xerox headquarters in
Rochester, New York Rochester () is a City (New York), city in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York, the county seat, seat of Monroe County, New York, Monroe County, and the fourth-most populous in the state after New York City, Buffalo, New York, Buffalo, ...
, afforded scientists at the new lab great freedom to undertake their work, but it also increased the difficulty of persuading management of the promise of some of their greatest achievements. In its early years, PARC's West Coast location helped it hire many employees of the nearby SRI Augmentation Research Center (ARC) as that facility's funding began falling, from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (
DARPA The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. Originally known as the Adv ...
), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (
NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the US federal government responsible for the civil List of government space agencies, space program ...
) and the U.S. Air Force. By leasing land at Stanford Research Park, it encouraged
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. S ...
graduate students to be involved in PARC research projects and PARC scientists to collaborate with academic seminars and projects. Much of PARC's early success in the computer field was under the leadership of its Computer Science Laboratory manager Bob Taylor, who guided the lab as associate manager from 1970 to 1977 and as manager from 1977 to 1983. Work at PARC since the early 1980s includes advances in ubiquitous computing, aspect-oriented programming, and
IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communication protocol, communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic ...
. After three decades as a division of Xerox, PARC was transformed in 2002 into an independent, wholly owned subsidiary company dedicated to developing and maturing advances in science and business concepts.


Accomplishments

PARC's developments in information technology served for a long time as standards for much of the computing industry. Many advances were not equalled or surpassed for two decades, enormous timespans in the fast-paced high-tech world. Xerox PARC has been the inventor and incubator of many elements of modern computing: *
Laser printer Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a Electric charge, negatively-charged cylinder call ...
s *Computer-generated
bitmap In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardw ...
graphics *The
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, interact with electronic devices through graphical icon (comp ...
, featuring skeuomorphic windows and icons, operated with a
mouse A mouse (plural, : mice) is a small rodent. Characteristically, mice are known to have a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail, and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (''Mus mus ...
*The
WYSIWYG In computing, WYSIWYG ( ), an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, is a system in which editing software allows content to be edited in a form that resembles its appearance when printed or displayed as a finished product, such as a printed d ...
text editor * Interpress, a resolution-independent graphical page-description language and the precursor to
PostScript PostScript (PS) is a page description language in the electronic publishing and desktop publishing realm. It is a Type system, dynamically typed, concatenative programming language. It was created at Adobe Systems by John Warnock, Charles Gesc ...
*
Ethernet Ethernet () is a family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks (LAN), metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN). It was commercially introduced in 1980 and first standardized in 198 ...
as a local-area computer network *Fully formed object-oriented programming (OOP) (with class-based inheritance, the most popular OOP model to this day) in the
Smalltalk Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed reflective programming language A programming language is a system of notation for writing computer program, computer programs. Most programming languages are text-based formal languages ...
programming language A programming language is a system of notation for writing computer program, computer programs. Most programming languages are text-based formal languages, but they may also be visual programming language, graphical. They are a kind of computer ...
and integrated development environment * Prototype-based programming (the second most popular inheritance model in OOP) in the
Self The self is an individual as the object of that individual’s own reflective consciousness. Since the ''self'' is a reference by a subject to the same subject, this reference is necessarily Subjective character of experience, subjective. The sen ...
programming language *
Model–view–controller Model–view–controller (MVC) is a software architectural pattern commonly used for developing user interface In the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, a user interface (UI) is the space where interactions between h ...
software architecture * AspectJ, an aspect-oriented programming (AOP) extension for the Java programming language


The Alto

Most of these developments were included in the Alto, which added the now familiar Stanford Research Institute (SRI) developed
mouse A mouse (plural, : mice) is a small rodent. Characteristically, mice are known to have a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail, and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (''Mus mus ...
,Xerox PARC was the first research group to widely adopt the mouse invented by
Douglas Engelbart Douglas Carl Engelbart (January 30, 1925 – July 2, 2013) was an American engineer and inventor, and an early computer and List of Internet pioneers, Internet pioneer. He is best known for his work on founding the field of human–compute ...
's Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute (now
SRI International SRI International (SRI) is an American nonprofit organization, nonprofit scientific research, scientific research institute and organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California. The trustees of Stanford University established SRI in 1946 as ...
) in
Menlo Park, California Menlo Park is a city at the eastern edge of San Mateo County, California, San Mateo County within the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the United States. It is bordered by San Francisco Bay on the north and east; East Palo Alto, Californ ...
.
unifying into a single model most aspects of now-standard personal computer use. The integration of Ethernet prompted the development of the PARC Universal Packet architecture, much like today's Internet.


The GUI

Xerox has been heavily criticized (particularly by business historians) for failing to properly commercialize and profitably exploit PARC's innovations. A favorite example is the
graphical user interface The GUI ( "UI" by itself is still usually pronounced . or ), graphical user interface, is a form of user interface that allows User (computing), users to Human–computer interaction, interact with electronic devices through graphical icon (comp ...
(GUI), initially developed at PARC for the Alto and then sold as the
Xerox Star The Xerox Star workstation, officially named Xerox 8010 Information System, is the first commercial personal computer to incorporate technologies that have since become standard in personal computers, including a bitmapped display, a window-bas ...
by the Xerox Systems Development Department. It heavily influenced future system design, but is deemed a failure because it only sold about 25,000 units. A small group from PARC led by David Liddle and Charles Irby formed Metaphor Computer Systems. They extended the Star desktop concept into an animated graphic and communicating office-automation model and sold the company to IBM.
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, technology corporation producing Software, computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services headquartered at th ...
founder
Bill Gates William Henry Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate and philanthropist. He is a co-founder of Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, te ...
has said that the Xerox graphical interface influenced both Microsoft and Apple.
Steve Jobs Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an American Entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, industrial designer, media proprietor, and investor. He was the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, CEO of Apple Inc., Appl ...
of Apple said that “Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry, could have been the IBM of the nineties, could have been the Microsoft of the nineties." While there is some truth that Xerox management failed to see the potential of many of PARC's inventions, this was mostly a problem with its computing research, a relatively small part of PARC's operations. A number of GUI engineers left to join
Apple Computer Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California, United States. Apple is the List of largest technology companies by revenue, largest technology company by revenue ( ...
. Technologies pioneered by its materials scientists such as
liquid-crystal display A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat-panel display or other electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liquid crystals do not emit light directly but ...
(LCD),
optical disc In computing and optical disc recording technologies, an optical disc (OD) is a flat, usually circular disc that encodes binary data (bits) in the form of Compact disk#Physical details, pits and lands on a special material, often aluminum, ...
innovations, and laser printing were actively and successfully introduced by Xerox to the business and consumer markets.


Distinguished researchers

Among PARC's distinguished researchers were three
Turing Award The ACM A. M. Turing Award is an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for contributions of lasting and major technical importance to computer science. It is generally recognized as the highest distinction in comput ...
winners: Butler W. Lampson (1992), Alan Kay (2003), and Charles P. Thacker (2009). The
Association for Computing Machinery The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a US-based international learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947 and is the world's largest scientific and educational computing society. The ACM is a nonprofit organization, non-pr ...
(ACM) Software System Award recognized the Alto system in 1984,
Smalltalk Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed reflective programming language A programming language is a system of notation for writing computer program, computer programs. Most programming languages are text-based formal languages ...
in 1987,
InterLisp Interlisp (also seen with a variety of capitalizations) is a programming environment built around a version of the programming language Lisp (programming language), Lisp. Interlisp development began in 1966 at Bolt, Beranek and Newman (renamed BBN ...
in 1992, and the
remote procedure call In distributed computing, a remote procedure call (RPC) is when a computer program causes a procedure (Subroutine#:~:text=In computer programming, a subroutine,particular task should be performed., subroutine) to execute in a different address spac ...
in 1994. Lampson, Kay, Bob Taylor, and Charles P. Thacker received the
National Academy of Engineering The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is an American Nonprofit organization, nonprofit, NGO, non-governmental organization. The National Academy of Engineering is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along ...
's prestigious
Charles Stark Draper Prize The U.S. National Academy of Engineering annually awards the Draper Prize, which is given for the advancement of engineering and the education of the public about engineering. It is one of three prizes that constitute the "Nobel Prizes of Enginee ...
in 2004 for their work on the Alto.


See also

* GlobalView * List of people associated with PARC * Xerox Daybreak (a.k.a. Xerox Windows 6085)


References


Further reading

*Michael A. Hiltzik, ''Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age'' (
HarperCollins HarperCollins Publishers LLC is one of the Publishing#Book publishing, Big Five English-language publishing companies, alongside Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette (publisher), Hachette, and Macmillan Publishers, Macmillan. The com ...
, New York, 1999) *Douglas K. Smith, Robert C. Alexander, ''Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer'' (
William Morrow and Company William Morrow and Company is an American publishing company founded by William Morrow (publisher), William Morrow in 1926. The company was acquired by Scott Foresman in 1967, sold to Hearst Corporation in 1981, and sold to News Corporation (no ...
, New York, 1988) *M. Mitchell Waldrop, ''The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal'' ( Viking Penguin, New York, 2001) * Howard Rheingold, '' Tools for Thought'' (
MIT Press The MIT Press is a university press affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts (United States). It was established in 1962. History The MIT Press traces its origins back to 1926 when MIT publish ...
, 2000) *Todd R. Weiss,
Xerox PARC turns 40: Making four decades of tech innovation
Computerworld, 2010


External links


PARC official websiteOral history interview with Terry Allen Winograd
Charles Babbage Institute The IT History Society (ITHS) is an organization that supports the history and scholarship of information technology by encouraging, fostering, and facilitating archival and historical research. Formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, ...
,
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, formally the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, (UMN Twin Cities, the U of M, or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Tw ...
, Minneapolis
Oral history interview with Paul A. Strassmann
Charles Babbage Institute The IT History Society (ITHS) is an organization that supports the history and scholarship of information technology by encouraging, fostering, and facilitating archival and historical research. Formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, ...
,
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, formally the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, (UMN Twin Cities, the U of M, or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Tw ...
, Minneapolis
Oral history interview with William Crowther
Charles Babbage Institute The IT History Society (ITHS) is an organization that supports the history and scholarship of information technology by encouraging, fostering, and facilitating archival and historical research. Formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, ...
,
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, formally the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, (UMN Twin Cities, the U of M, or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Tw ...
, Minneapolis {{Authority control PARC History of human–computer interaction Software companies based in the San Francisco Bay Area Technology transfer Flexible displays Research organizations in the United States Companies based in Palo Alto, California Technology companies established in 1970 Software companies of the United States Science and technology in the San Francisco Bay Area Research and development in the United States Corporate spin-offs 1970 establishments in California