Guardians of the Computer Galaxy

Imagine if somebody sent you a photo of the students in their college English Lit class and their classmates just happened to be Harper Lee, Truman Capote, John Grisham, Vladimir Nabokov, and Maya Angelou? That's how I felt when Bob Metcalfe forwarded this photo of the team behind the Xerox Star project.


These photos might seem like more corporate photos of techno geek gatherings, but you could spend an enjoyable leisurely day with the Wikipedia or Google entries for this amazingly concentrated assembly of talents that would go on to invent, found, lead, fund, or influence many of the most familiar and successful tech companies that became household names.


You'll get a quick (if intensive) masterclass about the Xerox Star, one of the true turning points in the digital age when you visit its Wikipedia page.


The first two pictures below were taken at PARC on Halloween 1978, just a year before Metcalfe quit Xerox to work on the Ethernet standards, eventually bringing Xerox, DEC, and Intel together to invent the standards we use today.


The team photo captures the Xerox Oak project team, working on an early hardware/software integration milestone in 1978. Parts of the project were used in the Xerox Star workstation (announced in 1981). The "Xerox 8010 STAR Professional Workstation" was the first widely available commercial PC as we know them today. The 8010 incorporated technologies we use every day in personal computers — PC display technology, the graphical user interface, icons, folders, the two-button mouse, Ethernet, file and print servers, email, and more.


For more info on computer history, Digibarn has done an enormous amount of work on the history of computers, and we encourage our readers to pay a visit.


Yogen Dalal has also curated a wonderful technical and informative "Ethernet Timeline History" site, including many wonderful photos and links.


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Young Guardians of the Computer Galaxy (1978). The Xerox Star Oak Project team, Palo Alto. Photo courtesy of Robert Garner.
  • Back Row: Yogen Dalal, Bill Kennedy, Jim White, Don Charnley, Ron Crane (ex-3Com), Jim Sandman, Rosemary Atkinson, David Liddle, Carol Hankins, Bob Metcalfe (ex-3Com), Roy Ogus, Barbara Koalkin, Paul McJones, Jim Cucinetti, John Weaver, Hugh Lauer, Bill Lynch.

  • Middle Row: Greg Shaw (ex-3Com), John Wick, Rich Johnsson, Robert Garner, Dave Redell, Victor Schwartz, Robert Kierr

  • Front Row: Tom Horsley, Steve Purcell, Jerry Morrison.

Bob’s shirt outlines the key parts of the Oak Project milestone – the D0 processor, microcode, the Mesa programming language, and Pilot Operating System. For more computing history, visit http://www.digibarn.com/. Photo courtesy of Robert Garner.

The photo below was taken at Steve Purcell's Memorial Service in March of 2019. Thank you all for your contributions to the computer and networking galaxy we all enjoy today!

Older Guardians of the Computer Galaxy (March 2019). Left-to-right: Paul McJones, Larry Masinter (blue shirt), Hal Murray, Roy Ogus, Bill Lynch, Shannon McElyea, Robert Garner, John Shoch, Geoff Thompson. Photo courtesy of Robert Garner.

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