Home Health The Xerox Star debuts, a personal computer that is at least five years ahead: it will fail

The Xerox Star debuts, a personal computer that is at least five years ahead: it will fail

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The Xerox Star debuts, a personal computer that is at least five years ahead: it will fail

On April 27, 1981, the first personal computer with a mouse is presented (invented many years earlier by Doug Engelbart but not commercialized). In reality, the Xerox Star did not only have this important novelty: it had a graphical window interface, icons to represent applications, an ethernet connection, and services to manage emails and a printer. In fact, it anticipated, by at least five years, what all personal computers would adopt. But, as often happens when you arrive too early, it was a fiasco.

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by Riccardo Luna


It had been developed at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, the PARC, built near the Stanford Research Institute, which had experienced a crisis and was a candidate to take up the baton. Here are some key moments of the story reconstructed by the storiainformatica.it site: “One of PARC’s results is the creation in 1973 of a pre-production computer called” Alto “, the first with a graphic interface and mouse. Alto is mostly addressed to research centers, so much so that Xerox grants a significant number of them to the most important US universities … In 1981 Xerox presents STAR (official name: 8010 Star Information System, codename “Dandelion”) which proposes to the world of professionals a complete one (user interface made up of windows, icons, mouse and points) preceding the Apple Lisa by two years, often mistakenly considered the progenitor of systems with such interfaces “.

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Why did it fail? Essentially for the cost. A computer cost a figure close to today’s $ 50,000: “Xerox notices the big mistake only after six years (December 1989), when it sues Apple for copyright infringement of the graphical interface. The producer of Star loses the legal action, creating a precedent also for the subsequent similar claims of Apple against Microsoft (with Windows) and HP (with NewWave) “.

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