Xerox PARC founder Jacob Goldman dies at 90

Founder of the lab that created the modern PC, the graphic user interface, and other innovations, Goldman passed away Tuesday from congestive heart failure, says The New York Times.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
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The famed Xerox PARC has lost its founder.

Jacob Goldman, a physicist who started Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, died on Tuesday in Westport, Conn., at the age of 90.

Goldman was lauded in a New York Times obituary as a "dynamic leader and ardent supporter of innovative technologies."

Launched in 1970, Xerox PARC is known in computer history as the hub that developed many of the technologies we take for granted today. Its scientists and researchers teamed up to design the Alto, the first modern personal computer; laser printing; the graphical user interface; the first WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor; and Ethernet networking, among many other products.

But Xerox as a company failed to capitalize on the technologies created at PARC, leading Apple, Microsoft, and others to pick up the ball and launch them as marketable products. In his recent biography of Steve Jobs, author Walter Isaacson describes how the late Apple co-founder was mesmerized by the work being done at PARC during a 1979 visit, proclaiming that "I can't believe Xerox is not taking advantage of this."

Brought to Xerox PARC from Ford, Goldman himself cautioned management that the research being done might not bear fruit for another 5 or 10 years, according to theTimes but that the company should look ahead to the future.

"He was the one that made sure that Xerox understood there was a revolution coming behind them that might change their business," author Michael Hiltzik wrote in "Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age," according to the Times.

After retiring from Xerox, Goldman became a private investor and served on the boards of several companies, including Xerox, General Instrument, and Burndy, added the Times.