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The Xerox Alto: A Personal Retrospective

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Published on Feb 7, 2010

[Recorded: June 4, 2001]
Founded in 1970, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) created, over a relatively short period, a paradigm shift in computing. Many of the technologies in modern personal computers, including high-quality graphical user interfaces featuring windows and icons, computer generated bitmapped graphics, Ethernet networked distributed computing, and laser printing, were mature technologies at PARC by the end of the 1970s.
The platform on which many of these technologies were utilized was the Xerox Alto personal computer, developed at PARC in 1973. Although small and slow by today's standards, the Alto's flexibility made it an ideal system for hardware and software experimentation.
In this talk, Alto designers Chuck Thacker and Butler Lampson describe a few of the applications and technologies the Alto enabled, as well as the exceptional working environment at PARC and the extraordinarily talented group of people who made it all happen.

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