50 Years Later, We’re Still Living in the Xerox Alto’s World – IEEE Spectrum

March 15, 2023

50 Years Later, We’re Still Living in the Xerox Alto’s World – IEEE Spectrum:

As should now be apparent, how the Alto came to shape our lives with computers a half century later isn’t the story of any one individual. In our culture, however, the history of technology is habitually presented as a sequence of remarkable individual achievements. But this is wrong. Innovation is the work of groups, of communities. These provide the context and the medium for the actions of the individual. Leadership is a meaningless concept outside of a group.

The remarkable story of the Alto is the story of such communities. It is a story of how a broad research community developed a shared vision for interactive, networked, graphical, personal computing. It is a story of how a smaller group of talented individuals came together in a new laboratory to realize that vision and to experiment with it. And it is a story of this group moving on, finding new colleagues and organizations in the rapidly expanding personal computer industry, and working for decades to bring the Alto way of computing to the world.

This is a under-recognized part of the history of the tech we use… Xerox and Bell Labs gave a lot of people room to play and figure out much of the foundations of what we see around us, but also didn’t know what to do with any of it until the right people took those balls and ran.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: