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Great Group: Xerox PARC

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A short presentation I delivered on the history and makeup of the early Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) innovation lab. In particular, I highlight how Alan Kay's contributions led to several key elements of our modern computers.

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Great Group: Xerox PARC

  1. 1. Jeremy Pesner Great Group: Xerox PARC (CSL) The Makers of the Modern Computer
  2. 2. History  Founded in 1970  Run by Bob Taylor  Brought in the best Computer Scientists from around the country he had met through ARPA (one of them: Alan Kay)  A long process to get in, including a public presentation  Greatest collection of minds after Manhattan project (so say Bennis & Biederman)
  3. 3. What made it great?  Pyramid Structure – All scientists reported directly to Taylor  Didn't matter if they were unpleasant  Free from administrative details, worked on the projects they wanted  Only one requirement: Weekly meeting to critique each other  Were shielded from main Xerox office by Taylor  “Religious zeal” for their work – were reimagining the computer
  4. 4. Alan Kay  Dissertation: Interactive computer which would “aid in the visualization and realization of provocative notions.”  (Consider what computers were then)  Invited by Taylor to join PARC and work on interactive computing  At 30, one of the oldest people there  Awesome dude  Exposed to art, music, literature – connected a lot of dots
  5. 5. What Did Alan Kay Create? The Alto - Alan Kay had visions for the new version of a computer, used theories of interaction and learning more than science Object-Oriented Programming - A new paradigm for programming languages. Made them easier to learn and understand. Used in all major languages today Graphic User Interface – Do you know how annoying it is to access files by terminal? Dynabook (concept) - “Self-contained object manipulator... the size and shape of an ordinary notebook.”
  6. 6. PARC's Progeny
  7. 7. In Short...

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