Many have called Steve Jobs the father of modern computing, but some would argue that the true credit goes to Jacob Goldman, founder of Xerox PARC. Under Goldman’s guidance, Xerox become responsible for the technology that inspired Steve Jobs to create computers like the Lisa.
The New York Times is reporting that Jacob Goldman passed away this week at the age of 90. He was Xerox’s chief scientist and founder of the Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center — the very place Jobs took his team in December of 1979 to get a demonstration of the technology that drove him to create the first successful personal computer.
The research lab Goldman founded in the 1970s was responsible for many technological breakthroughs that have influenced Apple and its competition, including the graphical user interface, laser printing, and the Ethernet office network.
While Xerox PARC pioneered the age of modern computing in many ways, it failed to implement its inventions successfully. In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder was quoted as saying that “Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry.” The company failed to execute its ideas, and Jobs told Xerox employees that they were “sitting on a gold mine” before he took the ideas at Xerox PARC, built upon those ideas, and created a successful computer company that is now valued at over $370 billion.
Apple would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for Jacob Goldman.