In this week’s New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell writes about innovation and how Xerox PARC failed to profit from the many incredible inventions that came out of its lab. (You can read the summary here.)
PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), located on the Stanford University campus, was founded in 1970 as a division of Xerox Corporation. They were an R&D lab that Xerox planned to use to both create new products and augment their current ones. They were tasked with creating “the office of the future.” In the mid-1970s, almost half of the world’s top 100 computer scientists were working at PARC. Within five years of its founding, PARC had developed a wide array of important computer technologies, including the following:
- Xerox “Alto”– the first personal computer with a mouse and graphical user interface (GUI) that included windows, icons, and pull-down menus.
- A WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editor.
- Computer generated graphics.
- An Ethernet local-area-network.
- Laser printing.
In Everett Roger’s book Diffusion of Innovations, he uses Xerox PARC as a case study in the “commercialization” phase of the innovation-development process. What led the engineers and scientists at PARC to such an amazing track record? Rogers breaks it down as follows: Continue reading “Fumbling the Future at Xerox PARC”