Alto by Xerox PARC (1973)

"Ahead of its Time"


In 1973, scientists and engineers working at Xerox PARC came up with a concept for the first fully-functional personal computer with monitor and keyboard, the "Alto."

The Alto was the first microcomputer to have included a monitor, keyboard, and CPU as a complete system.

The Alto, developed and operational by 1975/76 used 128K RAM, had a removable 2.5 Mb hard disk and could be connected to an Ethernet network.

The Alto was seen by Xerox executives as being too expensive to have broad public acceptance and they underestimated the high level of interest that personal computing would eventually have with the general public. For this reason, the Alto was not widely marketed by Xerox and only about 2,000 were made.

The Alto computer was distributed within Xerox and to certain government agencies. Some of Xerox's employees at its Palo Alto Research Center, where the Alto technology was developed, left to join a new company, Apple Computer. Apple was designing a computer with graphical interface similar to the concepts studied at Xerox PARC.

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