Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - commercial buildings; built works - research structures - laboratories

Designers: Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) (firm); George Francis Hellmuth (architect); George Edward Kassabaum (architect); Gyo Frederick Obata (architect)

Dates: constructed 1970

3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304-1314

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This lab building has a prominent place in Silicon Valley history; George Pake (1924-2004), a physics professor and administrator at Washington University in Saint Louis, MO, served as Xerox PARC's first Director, and he took the lead in assembling the center's talented and varied group of scientists that included Alan Kay (born 1940), Butler Lampson (born 1943), Charles Thacker (born 1943), Robert Metcalfe (born 1946), Charles Simonyi (born 1948) and David Boggs (born 1950). Kay led a group (including Dan Ingalls, Adele Goldberg, Scott Wallace, Ted Kaehler, and others at PARC) that refined the concept of networked computing, in this case using an object-oriented computer language they called Smalltalk; Smalltalk, influenced by John McCarthy's venerable LISP programming language and the Norwegian Computing Center's simulation programming languages Simula 1 and Simula 67, became the model for many later object-oriented languages, such as Objective-C, Java, and Python. An astonishing number of computing advances were perfected at PARC, including ethernet/distributed computing, VLSI circuit design, the WYSIWIG concept and laser printing and the point-and-click mouse and its graphical user interface (GUI). The mouse and GUI concepts were based on previous research by Douglas Engelbart (1925–2013) at the nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI). PARC was where Xerox developed its revolutionary Alto personal computer in 1972-1973 which dazzled many in Silicon Valley in the mid-to-late 1970s; following Steve Jobs's 12/1979 visit to PARC, Apple incorporated the Alto's mouse/gui and "desktop" metaphor in its Lisa and Macintosh models, then in development. In 2002, Xerox PARC was spun-off as an independent think-tank for hire. Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK), a large Saint Louis-based firm, produced the innovative design for Xerox PARC, designed to provide spaces that would catalyze interaction and cross-fertilize ideas.

PCAD id: 4282