Xerox Mouse

by Guruprasad

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The first commercial grade mouse, developed by Xerox.

Usually we hear about Microsoft copying from Apple. Windows copied from Mac. Mouse and GUI was copied from Mac and so on. But not many know that Apple also copied it from someone else. From Xerox..

If you take the engineers of Google and make them work under our Govt, what would happen? :)
Xerox was in the same state in 1970s. They had a successful business model of photocopier machines and were happy with it. Just for the sake of having an R&D centre, they had setup a reseach facility at Palo Alto and named it Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (Xerox PARC). The engineers/scientists were geniuses of the highest order and had come up with the concept of mouse and GUI design in 1970s itself.

Watch Xerox 30-sec promotional clip showing a prototype of their “future” technology:

The Xerox PARC engineering team showcased this prototype to their board of directors and got a rude response from them. They were told to scrap the project and work on something “useful”!!
This infuriated the engineers who had put their heart and soul on the project and knew its potential.
Steve Jobs got to know about such a technology developed at Xerox and he decided this was the right time to approach them and guessed that upon showing some appreciation, they would be delighted to give away all the secrets. And thats what exactly happened.

This 2-min scene shows those events very well:

This way, Steve Jobs and his engineering team got to know everything about GUI and the mouse. And incorporated all of it into the Macintosh which was launched with lot of fanfare.
And Bill Gates, who was a partner of Apple copied it from Mac and incorporated it into windows and brought it first to market even before Mac was launched.

Here is a short clip dramatizing the events showing how Steve & Bill got into a bitter fight, where Bill makes a valid point that even Apple copied it from Xerox and MS also did the same. This fight led to both of them parting ways and ending their partnership.

If you had read the description of previous photos of this album, you will be able to correlate some of the events to this scene. The 1984 award winning ad showing Apple mocking at IBM (big brothe)r is also dramatized in this scene.

Now, what is thought provoking in this? Notice how the Xerox management finds the idea of mouse to be a stupid idea. But the same mouse was adored by Steve Jobs, which in turn revolutionized the industry. What is stupid for one man maybe a game changer for another. There is nothing called stupid or serious. It all depends on context and the perspective :)