cat Xerox | Apple | Microsoft ?

From: Kai Kaltenbach <>
Date: Thu May 21 18:57:25 1998

The assertion that Xerox did not "invent" the GUI and that many of the
concepts had existed separately prior to their fusion at PARC is both true
and completely irrelevant, in exactly the same way that a similar assertion
could be made for the Wright Brothers, etc. No invention springs wholly
formed from teh forehead of the inventor, everything builds on previous
innovations. Xerox invented the GUI for all practical purposes.

Likewise, whether Apple was "planning" on implementing a GUI is completely
facetious. To return to the Wright Brothers analogy, lots of people were
planning on inventing an airplane. And besides, the GUI wasn't even a spark
in Apple's eye in 1979, they were just introducing the Apple II+ at that

The Xerox Star was introduced in May, 1981, and the Apple Lisa 1 wasn't
announced until January, 1983. It shipped in June of that year, more than
two years after the Xerox. Two years is a freaking LIFETIME in the computer
industry. What is this columnist smoking?

In regard to Windows being a clone of the Macintosh, that's also false. The
intended competitive target for Windows 1.0 was somebody's PC based product
which in turn was intended as a competitor to IBM's TopView.

I was here in the Windows 2.x/3.0 days, in fact, I was the beta
administrator for 3.0, and I can tell you that competing with the Macintosh
was the furthest thing from our minds. Nobody in the dev group had worked
on a Mac, we didn't have any Macs anywhere in the area, and nobody ever
mentioned the Mac as we made product decisions. In those days, our
competitor was Quarterdeck's DesqView, partly GEM too, and some other things
most people have forgotten like VM/386, not the Mac.

We were not trying to compete with or clone the Mac. We were trying to (and
this is not a corporate 'line', I'm serious, I was there) 1. make the PC
easier to use, and 2. break the '640K barrier'. We didn't do a graphical
user interface because it was graphical, we did it because it was WYSIWYG --
note that the first real Windows app was Aldus PageMaker, a desktop
publishing application. People think Windows was successful because of some
big Microsoft master plan, which is ridiculous. It didn't sell hardly at
all until it really took off with 3.0, and that's just because the
incredibly small dev team (like 25 including management) just wanted to do
some really cool software. Hell, at launch, we all had buttons that said
"Windows 3.0 - It's Cool." We weren't, and aren't, Orwellian characters,
just folks trying to write software that people want to buy. Gee, I guess
it worked! So sue us!

Remember that Windows back then wasn't remotely similar to the Mac apart
from it being graphical and using icons. Any similarity to the Mac that
grew over time was the result of tons of usability studies with people who
had never used a computer before. If implementing features via usability
studies makes Windows more like the Mac, that only means that Apple's user
interface must be genuinely easy to use and that doing things that way are
natural. There's this misperception that there's some bad blood between
Microsoft and Apple because they sued us, which couldn't be farther from the
truth. When the lawsuit came through, we weren't saying "Those bastards!",
we were saying "Huh? Why would they do that to their buddies?" And we
never held a grudge either, up to and including our recent financial
investments in Apple and our continuing successful software line for the

(my opinions, not my employer's)

-----Original Message-----
From: Max Eskin []
Sent: Thursday, May 21, 1998 4:17 PM
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Subject: cat Xerox | Apple | Microsoft ?

I am curious as to the veracity of the article at
It is a criticism of another article, partly quoted. The original
article says the Apple got their idea from xerox in 1979, and MS
got their ideas from Apple, and now they have copied the Mac w/Win98

The article in the link argues that Win98 is much worse than the mac,
which I agree with. I am wondering about its statement that Apple
knew all about GUI before 1979 with their Lisa. AFAIK, the lisa
is ~1982...

The author argues that the other one should get his facts and MS
propaganda in check. Is he practicing hypocrisY?

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Received on Thu May 21 1998 - 18:57:25 BST

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