Growing up in PARC

Some of my fondest memories as a kid were from the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Xerox created the environment to foster innovation in technology. And there was so much cool innovation going on. I got to play around with it all first-hand, as a 7-year-old in 1978, when my father joined along with other cohorts from CMU. Until my dad left in the early/mid-80s for Digital Equipment Corporation, Xerox PARC was a second home for me. There were so many new cool things being done at that time — networking, graphical user interfaces, mails, you name it. My favorite pastime was playing Trek.

Xerox pulled out of PARC decades ago. And now Xerox has pulled its final plug. Lots of memories. Lots of nostalgia.

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2 Responses to Growing up in PARC

  1. Roulette Wm. Smith PhD says:

    David Karlton,

    My name is Roulette Wm. Smith PhD. I taught your father at UCSB during the early-1970s … possibly in 1973. In an undergraduate course on artificial intelligence applications in psychology and education, I recall your father, another student and I discussing “computer browsing” analogous to butterflies moving from plant to plant pollinating flowers. I also encouraged your father to attend graduate school at Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU; where I did a sabbatical) in order to work with Professors Allen Newell and Herbert Simon.

    My question: Did your father (Phil) ever mention to you (or others) his notions of browsing at CMU and/or XEROX PARC (where I also had close friends from my graduate student days at Stanford University) prior to his employment at Netscape?

    Why my question now: I wish to attribute credit to Phil for some of my groundbreaking discoveries about the Epstein-Barr virus in the epidemic of HIV/AIDS (in the 1980s) and the recent SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 pandemic after using the Netscape and GOOGLE browsers in the late-1990s and early-2000s.

    • dkarlton says:

      Hi there!

      My ap0logies that I never saw your message until now, while doing a WordPress update.

      You are absolutely more than welcome to attribute credit to my father regarding your discoveries — which I would also love to hear more about. I’m still in touch with a lot of my father’s CS world, across multiple eras (CMU, PARC, DEC, SGI, Netscape).

      I don’t specifically recall my dad talking about browser analogies before Netscape came to fruition. But I wonder if some of his old colleagues may remember something. I’d be happy to ask around.

      I’ll keep a better lookout to your replies.


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