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The World of Xerox at the DigiBarn
(or how Xerox Change the World but Nobody Knows About It)

A Bit of Background

Final public demo of the Xerox Star 8010, 1998

Xerox and its impact on the history of personal computing, the graphical user interface and the networked way of working and living is a major focus of the DigiBarn project. Indeed the Digibarn project was formally started after curator Bruce Damer attended the final public demonstration of the Xerox Star 8010 held at Xerox PARC in 1998. Few people know of Xerox's key role in the invention of the world of computing and networking in which all of us now live. We hope that this collection of artifacts, stories and media will help to give Xerox its due and give you a look into an alternate reality of computing that emerged in the 1980s and then was replaced in the 1990s by the ubiquitous Personal Computer (PC) and the Internet.

This story is available in audio on Digibarn Radio (8MB MP3)

March 1975: The Story of Two Streams

Homebrew Computer Club meeting at Stanford in 1975
The famous Xerox PARC
(now, parc, incorporated) in Palo Alto, California

In March of 1975 two great events happened within a few miles of each other in Palo Alto California. On March 1, 1975 at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) the doors officially opened on the new main building at 3333 Coyote Hill Road, researchers moved in, and carried on work to build the applications and user community based on their own hand-built Alto graphical personal workstations connected with Ethernet and the ARPA network. Then, on March 5, 1975, Hobbyists met for the first time to form the Homebrew Computer Club to share their experiences with the brand new microcomputer kits and try to figure out how to make them do something useful.

The Xerox researchers didn't know it but they were building the user experience that would go on to find a place in every home and business on the planet. The homebrew hobbyists didn't know it but they were building the hardware and companies that would deliver computers onto every desk and into every pocket in the world. It took another twenty years for these two streams to become one when the hobbyist microcomputer users grew up to become the modern PC industry and the graphical interface and its suite of applications pioneered by Xerox became ubiquitous and tied together by the great successor to the ARPANET and Ethernet: the Internet.

Listen to this piece read here by DigiBarn Radio's Tommy Cuellar.

Now on to the Xerox Collections!

Click on the links below to explore the world of Xerox at the DigiBarn. We hope this helps you put this amazing story together!

Computer Systems

Xerox 6085
"Daybreak" (several systems in a fully functional network - thanks Dave Curbow and Inge Scherer)

The Xerox 860 IPS including video of it in operation (thanks David Linder)
Xerox 820 II CP/M microcomputer (thanks Inge Scherer)
Xerox 8000 Server (thanks Inge Scherer)
Xerox 8010 Star 8010 "Dandelion" (two of them, one working! thanks Alan Freier)
Xerox 8090 Server (thanks Alan Freier)
Xerox/Century Data removable disk cabinets (thanks Inge Scherer)

Xerox Alto II XM, thanks Mallorys! Also see our Alto mouse and keyset

Alan Freier and the D0 "Dolphin"

Xerox "D0" Dolphin and its story and the story of the "D*" machines (by Alan O. Freier)
Xerox Dlily "Bounty Board" (single board implementation of MESA/viewpoint environment)
Xerox Intran Edition running on Sun IPX (thanks Mike Jacovitch)

Other Xerox Artifacts

Xerox 4045
Laser Printer/Copier/Scanner (thanks Inge Scherer)

The Xerox 9700 Electronic Printing System
(its story told here)

DEC Firefly prototype dual processor card and history of the Xerox Dragon
(thanks Ed Satterthwaite) and boards from a Xerox MAXC time sharing system built at Xerox PARC (thanks Ed Satterthwaite and Bill Jackson)

Ethernet Tap and Transceiver
from Xerox PARC (late 1970s)

See our Alto II XM mouse and Alto II XM keyset (thanks Mallorys)

Xerox PARC mousepad for the dedication of the Pake Auditorium - 1996 (Thanks Tracy Kugelman)

Xerox Computer Marble Paperweight (Xerox Computer Users Group, 1973)

Xerox Documentation & Ads

Huge collection of Xerox documentation
including Xerox Alto & PARC research reports, Xerox Star 8010, binders for 6085/Viewpoint, 860, 820, GlobalView and various brochures. Also includes Viewpoint manuals - equations section sample.

Butler Lampson's famous 1972 Memo "Why Alto"? (Jan 2002)

Dave Curbow's extensive Xerox Star Historical Documents.

Alan Freier's "Wildflower" web site that was actually hosted for a time on an actual Star 8010 Dandelion with a custom built web server

Xerox Documenter
brochure (1987) and Xerox Intran Edition Brochures (1989)

A Decade of Research, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center 1970-1980

Xerox PARC Reports including the Alto paper (thanks Ed Satterthwaite)

Actual Original drawing of Ethernet by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC
(thanks parc, inc., Tracy Kugelman) and early drawing of Ethernet by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC (thanks Alan Freier)

Xerox Mesa PrincOps Language Manual (thanks Alan Freier)

Xerox Monks 1977 Superbowl ad
"it's a miracle!" (thanks Allen Kay)

Xerox Software in Operation

Xerox Alto operating system and applications

Mockingbird music scoring system running on the Dorado at Xerox PARC

Xerox Star 8010 operating system and applications

The (Xerox Star Icon) World According to Norm Cox

High quality Polaroid shots of the Xerox Star 8010 interfaces
with some early Icon design decisions (1981)

Maze War
running on Xerox Alto and Xerox Star 8010/6085

The Xerox 860 IPS in operation

Xerox T-Shirts and other Schwag

Geoff Thompson contributed his Daybreak over the Big Apple T-shirt from the 1985 launch
of the Xerox 6085

Xerox Stories and media on Digibarn TV and Digibarn Radio!

Digibarn TV: movies of Xerox systems in action
(GUIs on the Xerox STAR 8010)

Final Public Demonstration of the Xerox Star 8010 at Xerox PARC (June 1998) and
Bruce Damer's site on the story of the Star 8010, 6085, Alto, PERQ and Elixir Desktop: birth of the desktop metaphor

Celebration of the Xerox Alto's 30th Anniversary and Birthday Bash
at the Vintage Computer Festival #6 (Oct 11-12, 2003)

Bill Jackson on Xerox, Xerox PARC and the evolution of Xerox computing hardware
(October 2005)

Training videos of the Elixir products in action, video shot by Xerox, 1989-90 (posted March 2005)

Xerox Locations of Historic Note

The famous Xerox PARC
(now, parc, incorporated) in Palo Alto, California

The small Xerox museum in El Segundo, California (as visited by Southern California Xplor chapter in 2003)

Other Xerox History Sites around the Internet

Parc, Inc's history page

Wikipedia's entry for Xerox PARC

Search the Digibarn about Xerox

and there is much more on the site about Xerox, simply click here and search for "XEROX" at the DigiBarn

Know anything special about Xerox or these systems? Contact us!

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