What was it like to be at Xerox PARC when Steve Jobs visited?

Alan Kay, responding to this question on Quora:

A good enough answer would be longer than is reasonable for Quora, but I can supply a few comments to highlight just how little attention is paid in the media, histories, and by most people to find out what actually happened. For example, I was present at the visit and demo, and it was the work of my group and myself that Steve saw, yet the Quora question is the first time that anyone has asked me what happened. (Worth pondering that interesting fact!)

Steve Jobs’ famous visit to Xerox PARC to see the Alto system graphical user interface is the stuff of legend. The Mac owes its inspiration and existence to that visit. This is a great story.



  • Mo

    It’s great to hear from someone else who was there, about how much other great work had been done before more than a tiny handful of people knew about it.

  • Similar stories from another perspective here — this one written by then Apple employee Bruce Horn:

    http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=On_Xerox,_Apple_and_Progress.txt

    • James Hughes

      Interesting write up, but I could have done without Kay’s psychoanalyzing Job’s intent. IMHO Bruce Horn’s write up is much more on topic and informative.

    • GlennC777

      That bugged me too. About how Steve Jobs would act “when he wasn’t the smartest guy in the room.” If nothing else, Jobs had a particular genius for picking out certain elements and applying them that revolutionized computing multiple times. That turns out to have been a far more important type of intelligence, at least, than any other one person in computing has exhibited.

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