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10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing1 The Alto and Ethernet System Xerox PARC in the 1970s Butler Lampson Microsoft Research October 17, 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing1 The Alto and Ethernet System Xerox PARC in the 1970s Butler Lampson Microsoft Research October 17, 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing1 The Alto and Ethernet System Xerox PARC in the 1970s Butler Lampson Microsoft Research October 17, 2006

2 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing2 InfluencesOn the shoulders of giants nARPA community o Man-computer symbiosisLicklider o Time-sharing: CTSS, SDS 940, Tenex o Engelbarts On-Line System o Flex machineKay o Arpanet o Aloha packet radio network nXeroxOffice of the future o The electronic office

3 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing3 Alto in Context

4 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing4 Organization nCSL o Hardware: Alto, Ethernet o OS, Languages (BCPL, Mesa, Lisp) o Printing, file servers o Networking o Bravo (Word), Draw (Illustrator), fonts o Grapevine (email transport, server) o Laurel (email client) nSSL o Printing, file servers o Smalltalk o Gypsy (Word) o Markup (Paint)

5 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing5 Timeline n1960sTime-sharing, Sketchpad, NLS n1970sXerox PARC Alto, Ethernet, laser printers Bravo, Draw, Pup, Smalltalk Altair, Apple II Internet n1980s 81Xerox Star, IBM PC 84Macintosh, Laserwriter, MS Word/Excel n1990sWindows, Web

6 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing6 Themes But a mans reach should exceed his grasp, or whats a heaven for? Browning nComputers can be used as tools to help people think and communicate o Licklider o ARPA time-sharing and networking o Engelbart and NLS o Alan Kay and Flex nXerox: Office of the Future o How do we grow after copiers?

7 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing7 Personal Distributed Computing nPersonal o Under the control of a person and serves his needs. o Performance is predictable, and fast enough o Reliable and available. o Not too hard to use nDistributed o Everything in the real world is distributed o The computer is a communication device o Personal + communication = distributed o Need to share expensive devices too, esp. printers nComputing o We programmed, but users didnt

8 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing8 Information Convenient For A Person nUniversal o Any (black-and-white) image, data, any software Words, pictures, music,... o Specialize with software nInk on paper o Present images o Point at places in the image nThe Alto can do this quite well o For a single 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper o With black ink o No restrictions on the form of the images o Cannot read images nVoice and other sounds. o Later, less important

9 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing9 Principles nTime machinesimulate the future nUse what you build o Good for text, pictures, printing, sound, email o Bad for spreadsheets, databases nPersonal machine o People are fast, machines are slow o Performance is predictable nNo grand plan for the system: integration o Not enough experience, cycles or memory o Open OS, world-swap o Exception: Smalltalk

10 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing10 Alto Hardware n0.3 MIPS n128 KB RAM n 2.5 MB disk n 3 Mbit Ethernet o for 50 Altos n600x800 x l display n$12,000 to make

11 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing11 Alto Block Diagram uCode I/O RAM Compute Registers

12 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing12 Hardware nMoores law: live in the future if you can nPrice X CPU RAM Disk Net Alto MIPS MB MB MB/s n1974: Alto$40k 1 n1984: Mac$3k 1 n1995: PC$3k 100 5016300.1 n2006: PC$1k 10000 20001000300G100

13 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing13 Hardware Comparison ItemAlto, 1973 Desktop PC 2006 Factor CPU clock6 MHz3 GHz500 RAM size128 KB1 GB8000 RAM access850 ns100 ns8.5 Display pixels606 x 808 x 11600 x 1200 x 324 (pixels) 128 (bits) Network3 Mb Ethernet1 Gb Ethernet300 Disk capacity2.5/5 MB250 GB100K Cost$12,000 to make $1,000 to buy12

14 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing14 Key Ideas For Hardware nKISS o Had to be cheap enough to build lots of them nBitmap display o Display anything – like paper nProgrammable at all levels o Could change the instruction set and add new operations easily nFlexible and powerful input-output o Ethernet and Laser Printer controllers were add-ins nDistributed system o Connect many systems together with Ethernet

15 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing15 Alto In Use

16 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing16 Alto Awaiting Restoration

17 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing17 Ethernet nCSMA/CD o Based on Aloha o Collision detect o Exp. Backoff n3 Mbits/sec nShared by 50 Altos nRepeaters nMuch later, switches

18 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing18 Laser Printers nMarriage of Xerography and Computing nEARS was the first (1974) print server o Ethernet o Alto o Research Character Generator o Scanning Laser Output Terminal n1 copy/second, 500 dots/inch nLower-cost and color versions developed later o Dover: 300 dpi, small Alto interface. 100 copies nXerox understood it, built a successful business

19 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing19 SLOT Printer, 1972

20 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing20 The software nProgramming nServers nUser interface nApplications nSoftware is thought-stuff

21 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing21 Programming: OS, languages nMain problem: live with o.1 MIPS, 128 KB RAM, 5 MB disk nOS: files, programs, network, command line o Open: get rid of any parts you dont need o World-swap to change environments nLanguages o BCPL: father of C o Mesa o Smalltalk

22 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing22 Servers nNetwork: Ethernet and Pup o First internet: Ethernet, Arpanet, phone lines,... nPrinting o 3 generations of laser printer hardware o 3 generations of imagers: Ears, Press, Interpress nFiles o Interim file system o Research file systems nEmail o Tenex Arpanet email o Grapevine distributed naming and email

23 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing23 User interfaces nWindows o Smalltalk pioneered overlapping windows o Other software used tiled windows

24 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing24 Smalltalk nComplete system o OO language o Integrated edit/debug o Windows o BitBlt

25 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing25 Bravo nFirst WYSIWYG editor nPrototype for MS Word nInitial ideas o Piece table for document o Cache line bit maps nLater o Fonts and layout o High-quality printing o Styles nModeless UI from Gypsy

26 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing26 User interfaces nWindows o Smalltalk pioneered overlapping windows o Other software used tiled windows nViewscompute what you see o Smalltalk browser o Bravo multiple document views o Laurel email folders

27 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing27

28 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing28 Laurel Email Header Pane

29 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing29 Laurel/Grapevine nDistributed email system o Multiple servers o Names, mailboxes o Eventual consistency n3-pane window o Headers o Message in o Message out

30 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing30 User interfaces nWindows o Smalltalk pioneered overlapping windows o Other software used tiled windows nViewscompute what you see o Smalltalk browser o Bravo multiple document views o Laurel email folders nMenus o Markup had pop-up menus o Smalltalk had the first icons

31 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing31 Markups Popup Menu

32 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing32 User interfaces: Displaying things nImages o Bit-maps (as in Paint and Photoshop) o Object graphics (as in MacDraw and Illustrator) nFonts o Spline outlines for scalable fonts o Screen versions hand-drawnhinting much later nBitBlt o Computing with rectangular bitmaps

33 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing33 Markup nPure bit-map editing o Arbitrary images o Low resolution nPopup menu

34 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing34 Draw

35 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing35 SIL for Logic Drawings

36 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing36 Cedar

37 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing37 Applications nWriting: Bravo Microsoft Word nDrawing o Markup Paint programs o Draw MacDraw, Illustrator, Powerpoint, etc. o Sil CAD programs nEmail: Laurel mh, Eudora, Outlook, etc.

38 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing38 What the Alto system was like nJust like todays personal computing world o Writing, drawing, music, networks, printing, email nExcept o The Web, search engines o Spreadsheets o Integration o Speed

39 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing39 Boca Raton1976 nBig show-and-tell for Xerox execs o Lots of Altos o Ethernet o Laser printers o The apps youve seen nGoal: Get Xerox to make products nResult: Systems Development Division o Star office system o Limited sales of Alto office systems E.g., to White House

40 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing40 What Xerox did with the Alto nElectronic printingmany billions of dollars nXerox StarOffice system nFumbled the future? o Yes, but the real story is more interesting nIts easier to get a venture capitalist to give you money than to persuade the management of a large, successful company to try something new. Gordon Moore

41 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing41 Xerox Products: Printing n97002 pages/sec computer printer o Based on Xerox 9200 copier Hence sheet fed, good paper handling Hence blue laser o Character generator based on PARC RCG o Competition: IBM laser printer Fan-fold paper nLow end printers o First for Star8000 print server o Later OEMed, but too expensive nInterpressancestor of Postscript

42 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing42 Xerox Products: Star Office System nStar, shipped 1981 (same as IBM PC) o Ran on Dandelion processor nBuilt on Mesa and Pilot o Reliable, somewhat slow nHighly integrated o Editing, spreadsheet, filing, printing nBest office system for at least 10 years o Roughly = 1995 MS Windows /Office o Didnt selltoo expensive, closed $20-25k/workstation in total; 25,000 sold Apple Lisa in 1982 failed for the same reasons nIrony: researchers wanted a much simpler product

43 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing43 What Went Wrong? nPrinting o Xerox focus on high end copiers and printers No money in low end o Target existing markets: computer printing Office printing ignored. Apple, HP won this in 1985 nStar Office System o Engineers had a vision, and achieved it A wonderful system: 10 years ahead of its time Too expensive, inflexible o Overwhelmed by IBM PC wave o Researchers pushed for something more like Alto

44 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing44 What Others Did with the Alto EthernetXerox-DEC-Intel Laser printing, PostscriptAdobe, Canon, HP Lisa, MacintoshApple Windows, WordMicrosoft WorkstationsApollo, Sun, Lisp machines NetworkingInternet, Novell File and print serversNovell


46 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing46 Today nTodays PC is about 10,000 X an Alto nWhere did all the resources go? o Visual fidelity and elegance o Integration o Backward compatibility o Scalebooks, not just memos o Time to market o Response time nDid we foresee it? o Of course: Moores law.

47 10/17/06Alto Personal Distributed Computing47 Tomorrow nThe best way to predict the future is to invent it. nAre computers boring now? Hardly! nComputers are good for three things: o 1955: Simulation o 1980: Communication o 2005: Embodimentinteract with the physical world nThe best is yet to come see o Robots o Computers that see, hear, talk, understand o Information at your fingertips

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