One early morning a couple months back, we ventured from San Francisco down Highway 101 to 3333 Coyote Hill Rd., where a terracing three-story concrete building sits amidst rolling hills and horse farms.
The Palo Alto Research Center was established in 1970 as a division of Xerox (in 2002, PARC became an independent company). Through the years, PARC has churned out more than
6002100 patents and patents-pending in a variety of disciplines &mdash from computing and engineering to electronics and biomed. At one time, PARC’s patent portfolio was worth an estimated $1 billion.*
The Alto was dreamt up in 1972 and unveiled in 1973. PARC researchers were responsible for unleashing the first GUI in 1975. Researchers at PARC created the first worm in 1978 (it was intended for good: seek out idle servers to distribute processing load).
Famously, in 1979 a wide-eyed 24-year-old named Steve Jobs visited PARC and had his mind totally blown. About the GUI, he later recalled:
“I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life… within, you know. ten minutes it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day.”
To honor the place that’s more or less responsible for envisioning, creating and instigating the modern computing era, BBG will be posting a series of stories today about PARC: historical tidbits, current research, photos, video, insights and more.
*see Open Innovation