How Xerox Revolutionized the Way We Use Computers

1050 Words5 Pages
Have you ever wondered why personal computers look and feel the way they do, or why we use an oddball device called the mouse? Most have not. Yet buried in Xerox's history lay a story of great innovation, missed opportunity, and the failing to leave a well known footprint on the computer industry. How has Xerox impacted the computer industry and who usually gets the credit? The story begins in California at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) 40 years ago. In the early 1970's the copier company Xerox grew concerned the days to come would be a paperless world. Fearing obsolescence they would decide to move toward a future in computer technology. They acted swiftly. PARC opened in 1970 and withing three years Xerox already assembled several brilliant minds from the computer industry to work there. Former PARC manager of laser projects Don Scifres recalled “The breadth and amount of work that was accomplished during the 1970's and early 1980's was pretty incredible, and it was primarily a result of the people they hired” (Kincade 45). To begin Douglas Engelbart, creator of the mouse, introduced the pointing device to the PARC team and also developed bit mapping which is a process of segmenting the screen into smaller images. This led the PARC team to create an interface dubbed the GUI or graphical user interface. This was a way to point and click on the computer screen causing a process to occur instead of typing out commands in complicated computer jargon. Also created at PARC was the laser printer. Having similar mechanics to a copier this was an obvious invention for a company like Xerox. This created a need to know what your final print was going to look like on a new laser printer. WYSIWYG, or What You See Is What You Get, was PARC's way of formatting a computer screen to show you font styles, sizes, and spacing as close to exact as possible. It was as if you were holding the paper printout in front of your face. Another development was Ethernet, better understood as a way computers can talk or share information with each other. It was the first wire connected network for computers in the same location. In a decade PARC had developed technologies that would be the future of computing for years to come.

More about How Xerox Revolutionized the Way We Use Computers

Open Document