Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age

By Michael A Hiltzik (1999)

Kay recalled, the groups spend much of the daytime “outside of PARC, playing tennis, bike-riding, drinking beer, eating Chinese food, and constantly talking about the DynaBook and its potential to amplify human reach and bring new ways of thinking to a faltering civilisation that desperately needed it…”

See also “The Death Of Corporate Research Labs” (David Rosenthal).

My Notes

The best way to manage research was to select the best people in a given field and set them loose… “you cannot tell them what to do.”

“If someone tried to push their personality rather than their argument, they’d find that it wouldn’t work.”

“There isn’t an organisation newly begun where you don’t find those honeymoon years where there’s a special bond among people.”

People like a challenge:

“Chuck’s just made a bet that he can design a whole machine in just three months.”

Class One disagreement: neither can explain to the other’s satisfaction, their point of view. Class Two: each can explain their point of view to the other’s satisfaction.

“Class Two disagreements enable people to work together even when they disagree. Class One is destructive.”

They went and asked users (who worked in the printing business) how they would use a computer, before there was a computer. Cut, copy and paste came from there. 😮

The enthusiasm for learning as an end in itself that drives people to come early to their labs and stay late into the night.