Jacob Goldman, Xerox’s chief scientist behind the creation of the company's renowned Xerox Palo Alto Technology Center (Xerox PARC) died on Tuesday. Dr. Goldman was 90. Among the many technologies Xerox PARC gave to the world was the modern concept of a PC with a graphical user interface, which first reached the market with the Lisa and later the original Mac.
In the late 1960s, Goldman proposed that the company establish an advanced research facility to investigate "the architecture of information." Despite resistance, he persevered and in 1970 Xerox PARC opened its doors. Behind its walls were developed some of the most significant technologies used today, including Alto, the first personal computer, Ethernet networking, laser printing and the graphical user interface (GUI).
Although Xerox itself was never fully able to capitalize on the lab's efforts, many other companies did, including Apple and Microsoft. At one point, Apple's Steve Jobs was give a tour of the facility, where he saw the GUI under development. He sought and got permission from Xerox to use the GUI technology. The result was the GUI in the Lisa and first Mac computers, which helped Apple become the first mainstream supporter of visual interfaces instead of command lines.
Dr. Goldman attended Yeshiva University and received his master’s degree and his doctorate in physics from the University of Pennsylvania. His area of study was magnetism. After his education he started his professional career at Weshinghouse in 1945, before moving on to teach at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. Goldman joined Ford Motors in 1955, where he rose to the position of head of the company's R&D laboratory, reporting directly to Henry Ford Jr. until he made the fateful move to Xerox.