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Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age

ISBN: 0887309895
   Available on Amazon

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The book "Dealers of Lightning" deals with this, and many things about Xerox PARC, its a great read.

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More detail on changing the system while running, and a comment at the bottom from Alan Kay retelling this same story:

"Dealers of Lightning" also a has a chapter on Job's visit: Try the "look inside" for "Steve Jobs Gets His Show and Tell".

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Ever hear of the laser printer, local networking and the GUI?
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If you dont know who Chuck Thacker is (and why his contribution is important) - read Dealers of Lightning (
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Taylor had an immense impact both direct and indirect on the nature of computing as we know it today, it's a little sad he's not better known.

Dealers of Lightning does a great job detailing his role in it all - that along with soul of a new machine really capture the spirit of that 60s/70s generation of computing.

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For the question "What are some of the best books to learn from that you recommend for a young startup founder?", I decided to transcribe the answers.


"Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" -

"Republic" - (classic, feel free to grab a PDF)

"The Principia : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" - (classic, feel free to grab a PDF)

"Thinking, Fast and Slow" -

"Molecular Biology of the Cell" - (different edition, forgive me; free through NCBI, thanks jkimmel!)

"Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age" -

"The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer" - (note: "that one's particularly good")

"Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories" -

"The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership" -

"The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time" -

"The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison" -

"The Art Of War for Lovers" - (fixed! sorry about that...)

"Hold 'em Poker: For Advanced Players" -

"Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets" -

"The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition" -

"Winning" -

I wish he had answered in text. That would have made things easier :) However, I'm still very happy to have some new additions to my reading list!

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i highly recommend michael hiltzik's "dealers of lightning" []. it's one of the two best history of computing books i've read (tied with katie hafner's "where wizards stay up late")
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I recommend anyone interested in PARC read "Dealers of Lightening" by Michael Hiltzk.[1]

It's been argued that the profits from the laser printer paid for the money spent on PARC a 100 fold. I'd agree with that. That said, I don't think Xerox could have been the new IBM/Microsoft/Apple combined - simply because their sales force was.. addicted? to the per imprint commission model, and it would be a huge change to go to a different model for them. So while PARC could have invented it, and they could have possibly gotten it into production, I don't think their existing sales and support force understood enough on how to sell and service it.

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"Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age" is pretty good:

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The Unheavenly City by Edward Banfield: PDF:


His time preference classes explains so much of people regardless of race, religion, nationality, etc.

Rise of the Fourth Reich:

This is where I learned about Konrad Zuse creating a digital computer and programming language miles away from Bletchley Park in the early 40s.

Dealers of Lightning:

It's about XEROX PARC. Unfortunately, they did not talk about how PARC made the OS and apps obsolete by using objects communicating over a network. I had to learn about that from an Alan Kay video. It did show how PARC contributed to the Internet by creating an internet before ARPANET.

Last and best of all:

The latest report, "Steps Toward Expressive Programming Systems", describes a computer system without an OS. They seem to be refining what PARC did back in the late 1970s.

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If anyone wants to learn more, there's a fantastic book about Xerox PARC called "Dealers of Lightning" by Michael Hiltzik.
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