Found 5 comments on HN
hga · 2013-08-31 · Original thread
The original AT&T was an official government monopoly so the very existence of Bell Labs was in part a tax it payed to avoid problems. As I recall it also wasn't allowed to do things like sell UNIX(TM) for serious money prior to the United States v. AT&T 1982 consent decree ... which I notice is the same year UNIX System III was released.

Xerox, though ... well, a good book on that is Fumbling the Future: ... which is still in print after it's 1988 debut.

That isn't even an example of disruptive innovations almost never happening in established companies, Xerox just wasn't doing that sort of thing to begin with. Well, they bought Scientific Data Systems at the top in 1969 and fumbled that by the middle of the '70s....

ChuckMcM · 2013-01-02 · Original thread
"Redmond spends more on R&D than Google and Apple combined. Think about that the next time someone tells you Microsoft doesn’t have a future."

Two words, Xerox PARC.

At Sun there was a weird joke that Sun Labs was where good ideas went to die. It was frustrating.

The point here is that good R&D is a necessary but not sufficient component of innovation, the second is a willingness to productize your work. Strangely the hardest thing about that is not making a product out of it, the hardest thing is making a product you can ship.

Good R&D isn't constrained, which is to say that you don't tell the folks doing the research you are only researching things we can sell for a profit, but that is a constraint on products. What happens is the 'Apple effect' where you have a bunch of researchers who can't make a profitable product (Xerox Star) and then a product guy comes along (Steve Jobs) who sees the essence of the innovation, and can strip away the parts where it goes too far and ships that.

Its really challenging to build something close to your vision and not ship it, it seems like it is impossible to build something that is close to your vision and then ship something only half as close as that. But that is where the success can be. "Fumbling the Future" [1] is a fascinating read for that reason.


Getahobby · 2011-08-29 · Original thread
Apple DID NOT invent gui. When Jobs visited PARC he saw three revolutionary ideas:

GUI Networked personal computers Object Oriented Programming


Seriously, that book is a must read for any person that reads this site. 3 dollars for a used copy. And Apple did not license anything GUI related from Xerox - there was a lawsuit involving the lack of licensing the technology.

You know what rubs me the wrong way? I am a geek - I love it when the geeks get the credit for making things work and the marketing people just get the credit for the shiny veneer. Woz is the geek here and I feel like he doesnt get the credit he deserves. Anybody know where Woz worked before Apple? HP - he took the risk of leaving a well established company and joined forces with Steve Jobs. I am not saying it didn't work out well for him but I think too many people forget about him and focus on the other Steve. Oh well. Oh yeah, I wrote this on my iPad and it took forever to compose. FWIW.

hga · 2010-04-05 · Original thread
It's worth pointing out that the most fundamental stuff came from Douglas Engelbart's SRI group, e.g. the mouse and windows:

Plus Xerox did sue Apple on the basis of copyright but the case was dismissed since the statute of limitations had expired.

What Xerox did and didn't do when it mattered (before this) is well described by the title of a book and the book itself: Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, then Ignored, the First Personal Computer (

mbrubeck · 2009-11-29 · Original thread
It was more or less invented by Xerox, but they never brought it to market. Why not? Xerox was a multi-billion-dollar company and didn't want to "waste time" on a product that at the time had a very small potential market.

That's how Alan Kay sums up the history, anyways. There's a much more complete account in Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, then Ignored, the First Personal Computer:

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