Early computers were strange devices. They had no screens, and the only input device was a thing that looked like a manual typewriter, that punched cards. Clearly there was development work to be done.
One company that sought to envision the future of technology was Xerox.
This was a bit strange, since Xerox was an “old guard” company by the latter 20th Century – a blue chip maker of copying machines, with a long-established business model and a stuffy corporate culture.
Yet, in 1970 Xerox made a move that has since become legendary: it opened Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), an advanced research and development center in Palo Alto, California.
What made Xerox PARC legendary were the many things innovated and developed there, including laser printers, computer-generated bitmap graphics Ethernet.
It was at Xerox PARC that the graphical user interface was developed, including windows and icons.
Their GUI also included the first computer mouse.
As the U.S. Census Bureau points out, the mouse first introduced by Xerox in 1981.
Its 80-10 information system — with the mouse — didn’t catch on, mostly because it cost $20,000.
But the mouse itself roared elsewhere in the computer industry and is still holding its own against touch-screen developments.
You see, many young engineers and visionaries visited Xerox PARC in those days. One of them was named Steve Jobs, who co-founded a startup called Apple Computer.
Jobs played with the Xerox mouse and, saw the future of input devices. In his future the mouse would be much, much simpler. It would cost about $2 to make.
In other words, Xerox got the idea right, they just didn’t take it far enough to create a commercially-viable product. Jobs did, and the rest is history.