Y Combinator’s Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer

(credit: Michael Hicks)

This article originally appeared on the blog of author Ken Shirriff and is reprinted here with his permission.

Alan Kay recently gave his 1970s Xerox Alto to Y Combinator, and I’m helping with the restoration of this legendary system.

The Alto was the first computer designed around a graphical user interface, and it introduced both Ethernet and the laser printer to the world. The laser printer was invented at Xerox by Gary Starkweather, and networked laser printers were soon in use with the Alto. Y Combinator’s Alto is an “Orbit” model with slots for the four boards that drive the laser printer, laboriously rendering 16 rows of pixels at a time.

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Technology Lab – Ars Technica