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Xerox has had their share of problems

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  • Xerox has had their share of problems

    At about 9:15 it gets pretty interesting. I've never heard this before....

  • #2
    That video only tells part of the story of what Xerox passed up on over the years.

    Apple wasn't the only company given previews of the Alto computer system (and then their officially commercially released Star workstation based on the Alto). I was given a similar tour by Xerox PARC when working for Wang Labs back in 1980. What they had was amazing! Regrettably, Wang Labs had an “executive succession problem” (can you say “nepotism”) and work we were doing to make a commercially viable real-world system with similar technologies floundered because “Fred” continued to believe that a Z80 microprocessor with 64K of memory and a 24x80 character-based screen would forever be able to be sold for $5,000 and those involved in the next generation systems, including myself, all left for greener pastures.

    Not only did Xerox pass on really productizing their Alto/Star workstation technology, but they also passed on the concept of a device-independent, next generation page description language. Both John Warnock and Chuck Geschke left Xerox PARC and founded Adobe using technology that Xerox didn't want to productize. Where do you think PostScript came from?

    It also turned out that in the early 1980s, Xerox bought a company called SDS, Scientific Data Systems, a designer and manufacturer of high end computers used in scientific and engineering applications, renamed it to XDS, and then let it wither on the vine.

    And there was another Xerox faux pas. In the mid-1980s, Xerox bought a two man software company based in Morgan Hill, CA (south of San Jose) that produced the Ventura Publisher publishing product. Even in 1987, it had some layout features that are still not matched in InDesign today. It was certainly easier to use and higher performance than Aldus PageMaker or early versions of QuarkXPress. But Xerox didn't know how to continue product development or support the product, eventually selling the product to Corel which subsequently dropped it.

    The problem was that whenever Xerox's Rochester and later Stamford, Connecticut executives got pitched with new technology and product ideas, they got nervous and retreated to what they felt comfortable as, a copier company! (Ironically, the first Xerox Docutech printers were really repurposed and souped-up “write white which is never quite right” copiers!)

    Very sad how both Xerox (and Kodak and other tech companies) with great technology failed even though they had the technologies and engineering, but not the management and executives with vision into the future.

    - Dov


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