On this day in 1922, Peter McColough was born #history

Peter McColough became the head of Xerox and in his pursuit for the Office of the Future he founded Xerox PARC – it went on to develop many of the first personal computer concepts.

Excerpt from The PC Pioneers

Peter_MccoloughIn 1969 at Xerox he spent over $900m in stock to acquire Scientific Data Systems (SDS), an operation that ARPA had supported. McColough and Xerox planned this as a move into the computer market as a part of its key objective which was to develop ‘The Office of the Future’.

The two principals Peter McColough, the CEO at Xerox, and Max Palevsky of SDS were also somewhat blinded by the notion that their combined strengths would move them towards supremacy over rival IBM.

Max_PalevskyIt is worthy of note that even the BUNCH (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data and Honeywell) had lost over $150m in the ‘60s against IBM’s $3.5 billion profits.  So a plan to come close to IBM’s success was something of a big ask.

SDS had less than a 1% share of the US market; under Xerox it fared no better.

In seeking to achieve their goals for the acquisition McColough concluded that they would need to expand their research capabilities with a new facility that was initially called the ‘Xerox Advance Scientific & Systems Laboratory’.

By March 1970 Xerox decided it should be deliberately located away from its current copier research facility and so established itself in California.

PARC_logoIt was renamed the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, and located right at the heart of Silicon Valley within the Stanford Research Park. The prime mission was to define and develop The Office of the Future; but PARC would in fact go on to define much of the approach for personal computing.

George_PakeDr George Pake had a Harvard doctorate in physics.  He became a professor at Washington University, its Head of Physics at the age of twenty-eight and later Provost of the university.  He was appointed as the first director of Xerox PARC.

Read more…

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