In 2014, the Computer History Museum released the Xerox Alto file server archive, constituting about 15,000 files from the Xerox Alto personal computer including the Alto operating system; BCPL, Mesa, and (portions of the) Smalltalk programming environments; applications such as Bravo, Draw, and the Laurel email client; fonts and printing software (PARC had the first laser printers); and server software (including the IFS file server and the Grapevine distributed mail and name server). I told the story behind that archive here.
Today CHM released the Xerox PARC Interim File System (IFS) archive:
The archive contains nearly 150,000 unique files—around four gigabytes of information—and covers an astonishing landscape: programming languages; graphics; printing and typography; mathematics; networking; databases; file systems; electronic mail; servers; voice; artificial intelligence; hardware design; integrated circuit design tools and simulators; and additions to the Alto archive.
A blog post by David Brock introduces the archive. Access to the archive itself is available here.
I began working on this project in 2018 under an NDA with PARC: reading the old media prepared years earlier by Al Kossow, updating the conversion software I’d written for the earlier Alto project, and winnowing down a list of 300,000 files to the 150,000 files that I submitted to PARC management for approval. David Brock’s post ends with an Acknowledgments section noting all the people at CHM and PARC who contributed.
On May 22 and 23, 2017, the Computer History Museum held a two-day meeting with more than 15 pioneering participants involved in the creation of the desktop publishing industry. There were a series of moderated group sessions and one-on-one oral histories of some of the participants, all of which were video recorded and transcribed.
Building on this meeting, three special issues of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing were published, telling the stories of people, technologies, companies, and industries — far too much for me to cover here, so I will provide these links:
Web extras: Dave Walden’s page of corrections, links to the original video recordings and transcriptions, and legend for the group photograph heading this post.
Last but not least, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz Bond Crews, who worked first at Xerox and then Adobe to forge relationships and understanding between the purveyors of new technology (laser printers and PostScript) and the type designers, typographers, and designers who adopted that technology. An edited version of that interview appears in the third special issue of Annals:
Evan Koblentz just sent me a link to the flyer for the Vintage Computer Festival East 7.0, which is scheduled for May 14-15, 2011, in Wall, New Jersey. Lectures in the mornings; exhibits in the afternoons; see the flyer for more details.
The Computer History Museum has just launched a partnership with YouTube to provide a ComputerHistory “channel”. Right now it has 23 videos from various events and lectures at the museum; if you subscribe (via the orange button), you’ll be notified when more are uploaded. In the mean time, the museum maintains a calendar of past events with links to video, where available.
My name is Paul McJones. I am using this weblog to discuss historic computer software and hardware among other topics. For several months I’ve been studying the early history of Fortran, and trying to track down the source code for the original Fortran compiler. Although I just set up this weblog recently (June-July 2004), I’ve created back-dated entries to document my quest in chronological order, starting here.
I welcome suggestions for additional topics, and also would like to invite others to contribute articles on the history of early programming languages, operating systems, database management systems, and applications.
If you like this web log, you might be interested in the System R website documenting the history of the System R relational database research project, which gave birth to the SQL query language.