You might know PARC. This is the lab that Steve Jobs walked into and was inspired to make the Mac what it is today. Inside this lab lots of things in the industry were developed:
1. Laser printers and page description language.
2. Tablet PCs (the first prototype is sitting in a display there).
3. Ethernet (first piece of ethernet is still in the wall here, and is seen in one of the interviews below).
4. Object oriented programming.
5. The modern personal computer with graphical user interface.
6. Very-large-scale-integration for semiconductors.
Among other things, which are detailed on Wikipedia.
So, when PARC says “come on over for a tour” you drop everything and go.
While there I met with several people to get a taste of what they are working on now. Visiting here is like visiting Jerusalem (home of the first church). It’s where everything seemed to start and is still filled with brilliant people. For instance, in part IV of my tour you’ll meet Richard Chow. Some of his achievements include architecting Yahoo!’s click-fraud protection system and delivering the Security and DRM components for Motorola’s first Java-based phone platform.
PART ONE: Future of Networking. See the first Ethernet cable in the wall, and learn about Content Centric Networking. Here, Teresa Lunt, Vice President and Director of the Computing Science Laboratory research organization, and Nacho Solis, researcher, tell me how networks are changing.
Anyway, let’s get started.
PART TWO: How Ethnographic research leads to new business ideas. Here we meet Victoria Bellotti who manages PARC’s Socio-Technical and Interaction Research team at PARC where she also developed PARC’s Opportunity Discovery research targeting methods and program. Victoria studies people to understand their practices, problems, and requirements for future technology, and also designs and analyzes human-centered systems — focusing on user experience.
PART THREE: Ubiquitous Computing research (and some historic networking equipment). Kurt Partridge is a researcher in PARC’s ubiquitous computing area. His research interests include context awareness, activity modeling, location modeling, wearable computing, and using users’ natural behaviors to simplify human-computer interaction. He received a Ph. D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington in 2005. Here we talk about what happens when computers are everywhere, which enables the Internet of Things.
PART FOUR: Keeping our Cloud Computing Safe. Richard Chow is interested in systems security, fraud detection, and privacy. Some of his achievements include architecting Yahoo!’s click-fraud protection system and delivering the Security and DRM components for Motorola’s first Java-based phone platform.
Here Richard talks to me about what he’s working on and how he’s developing new techniques to keep our data private and secure. Interesting conversation!
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little tour around PARC.
By the way, recently Malcolm Gladwell wrote about PARC’s role in computing’s development. He got several things wrong, PARC’s managers say, and they wrote a rebuttal on their blog about how the lab innovates and why it plays a key role in Silicon Valley even today.