Xerox (RE: Lisa's scores)

From: Mike Sprague <>
Date: Fri Jun 27 21:26:49 1997

Kai Kaltenbach wrote:
> The first GUI system was the Xerox Alto. It was desk-sized. The
> commercial model was the Xerox Star, which was somewhat smaller (c.1977)

Half right. :-) To my knowledge (and I may be wrong), there is no such
thing as a Xerox "Star." Star was simply the name of the software that
ran on the computer (a Xerox 8010). It did, however, become common to
all the machine a Star, much like people nowdays call a PC their
"Windows" box. It really used to annoy me when people would say "Can
you star that document to me?", which meant, "Can you mail me that
document to me?"

Anyway, the Alto and 8010 are related, but are _very_ different
machines, and the Alto was never offered commercially (almost was
though). The graphical system that ran on the Alto (XDE, or Xerox
Development Environment) was updated to run on the 8010's, 6085's, and I
understand, even on PC's under Windows a few years back. To my
knowledge, Star (which later became Viewpoint) never ran on the Alto.

> The book "Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the
> First Personal Computer" by Douglas Smith and Robert Alexander, states
> that Xerox voluntarily offered the UI elements to Steve Jobs. Apple
> does not appear to have "stolen" the ideas.
> Kai

Hmmm, I haven't read the book, but Xerox certainly fumbled the future on
a number of things! Having worked on one of those fumbled things, and
used others, it's quite annoying.

Anyway, common folklore at Xerox (right or wrong) is that Xerox was
showing off the UI to Jobs, not realizing what it had, or that Jobs
would want it. I also understand that Jobs hired a number of people who
had worked on it away from Xerox, to work on the Lisa. Most feel that
while Jobs did not quite steal the UI, it was close enough to be the
same thing! :-)

                        ~ Mike
Received on Fri Jun 27 1997 - 21:26:49 BST

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