Founder and chief scientist of Xerox’s renowned Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) Jacob “Jack” Goldman has died at age 90. Goldman has been credited with spearheading many of the technological breakthroughs that are at the core of modern computing and that have been a huge influence on the success of Apple and Microsoft in personal computing.
In the late 1960s, Goldman proposed that Xerox establish an advanced research facility. Despite much resistance he managed to launch Xerox PARC, which would develop most of the significant technologies we take for granted today, including the first personal computer called Alto, the graphical user interface (GUI), Ethernet, and laser printing.
However, Xerox itself never capitalized on the research and instead allowed other companies such as Apple to take and develop the GUI technology to produce the first mainstream personal computer that supported a visual interface in lieu of command lines. In the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, Jobs was said to be mesmerized by the work done at PARC during his 1979 tour of the facility, saying “I can’t believe Xerox is not taking advantage of this.”
Goldman had a masters degree and doctorate in physics with a focus on magnetism. He joined Ford Motors in 1955 and became head of its R&D laboratory before moving to Xerox. Goldman became a private investor and served on the board of several companies after he retired from Xerox.