• Subject: Re: Think Different. (Spin Doctors, and Re: Is it NT or VMS)
  • From: DAsmussen@xxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 16 Nov 1997 23:58:07 -0500 (EST)


In a message dated 97-11-15 05:55:54 EST, you write:

> >> "Actually, Xerox invented the windows interface (and the mouse) at their
>  Palo Alto Research Center in the '70's.  They just couldn't figure out
>  what to do with it."  <<
>  I wouldn't put it quite that way - they marketed under the Xerox "Star"
>  banner.  Mostly it was sold as a sophisticated word processing device,
>  competing with a number of other stand-alone WP systems of the time - it
>  the first time I saw a system with a portrait format screen.  I suspect
>  the reason it failed to impress the market was the price which was very
>  and the performance which was well short of stellar.  One of my customers
>  installed a number of them back in the late '79 - '81 timeframe I would 
> guess.

Thanks for debunking one of the myths put forth by the intriguing, but
sometimes "selective memory" heavy, "Revenge of the Nerds" documentary.
 Xerox did, indeed, create a lot of today's technology in their "skunk
works", but the marketing of them was frequently overlooked due to the fact
that it was unsuccessful (and just how well would you _EXPECT_ copier
salespersons to present computer technology?).  Heck, it wasn't until this
decade that people began to view imaging and computers as the same technology
on a broad scale.

>  Ultimately it failed because the CPUs of those days just didn't have the
>  horsepower.  Was the software written in Smalltalk - it was certainly the
>  time-frame.  At least when Apple cloned it - first for the Lisa and then
>  Mac - they had the good grace to freely credit the inspiration for their
work -
>  I think I'd feel different about MS if they were similarly generous in
>  crediting others.

I remember selling against the "Star" with our Lexicon (a Raytheon
corporation) line.  Heck, the US Navy had just bought 12,000 Lexicons for
word processing, so we couldn't go wrong -- right?  Wrong!  The darn things
were $12K apiece without the printer, had a monochrome monitor and two 360K
floppies for storage.  Against the WP of choice at the time, the WANG 2200,
it was quite a bargain.  Problem was, this thing called a PC showed up, with
an amazing amount of software for a new intro (by today's standards), for a
mere $5K "maxed out"...

I guess that the original _IBM_ PC is what is driving today's technology
stocks.  If you think about it, it's been nearly 20 (EGAD!) years since a
technology of such pervasive impact has been introduced.  Everything in the
interim has been improvements upon existing technology.  PIM's were going to
do it, but the software didn't match the hardware.  Cell phones are now
ubiquitous, but are really more a function of the FCC relaxing its rules than
of technological innovation.  The "Internet" has been there for years, people
just started noticing.  Automobiles now have computer controls, airbags, and
anti-lock brakes -- but these improvements have actually INCREASED their
purchase price.  What _WILL_ be the next PC?  Something that none of us has
yet envisioned, but will be as simple as the "pet rock", the "wacky
wall-walker", or that 8088 with two floppies and 256K of memory...


Dean Asmussen
Enterprise Systems Consulting, Inc.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  USA
E-Mail:  DAsmussen@aol.com

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." --
Herman Wouk
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