Cult of Mac has a write-up of a Scientific American article by the visionaries at Xerox PARC, source of basically the entire way we use computers today, about the future of computing, and how prescient PARC was for anticipating mobile computing on differing levels, from the iPhone, to the iPad, to — presumably — an iTable.
The most impressive part of this report, according to the Cult of Mac, is that the PARC people, from whom Steve Jobs took all of their computing metaphors and then cried from under his lawyers’ skirts when Microsoft did the same, wrote this report 20 years ago. It’s like when you find a science fiction novel in which the author accurately predicts something; it’s rare, and pretty fantastic:
“Ubiquitous computers will also come in different sizes, each suited to a particular task. My colleagues and I have built what we call tabs, pads and boards: inch-scale machines that approximate active Post-It notes, foot-scale ones that behave something like a sheet of paper (or a book or a magazine), and yard-scale displays that are the equivalent of a blackboard or bulletin board.”
Cult of Mac’s analysis:
Way back in 1991, just as Apple was transitioning from 68k to PowerPC chips, the braniacs at Xerox PARC were predicting it’s entire iPod, iPhone and iPad strategy. And next up for the iPad is a blackboard-sized device.
This is pretty great, right? Pretty fantastic. PARC is full of amazing ideas; they’re visionaries.
What’s amazing is how twenty years later PARC’s vision describes Apple’s transition into a “mobile” company with a range of devices accessing the cloud
That’s one way to look at it, sure. Another way to look at it is that it’s amazing that Steve Jobs is following a 20-year old script written by someone else, and he seems to building his business entirely on the backs of the people at PARC, who actually have the good ideas. He’s like some kind of stylish ventriloquist’s dummy; sure, he says some neat things, but they all come from somewhere else.
Another thing that’s interesting about this whole Xerox PARC document is that not only is Apple playing catch-up with a 20-year old concept document, with Microsoft having released the Surface several years ago, they’re playing catch-up with Microsoft, too.
Sorry, cool kids; your leader’s a hack.