Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

The Xerox Alto is one of the first personal computers (a term that was already coined at the time), a general purpose computer designed for individual use (although not as a home computer). However it was expensive and, unlike modern personal computers, not based on a microprocessor. It was developed at Xerox PARC and released on March 1, 1973. It was the first computer to use a desktop metaphor,Thacker, Charles P., et al. Alto: A personal computer. Xerox, Palo Alto Research Center, 1979.The main goals in the design of the Alto’s user input/output were generality of the facilities and simplicity of the hardware. We also attached a high value to modeling the capabilities of existing manual media; after all, these have evolved over many hundreds of years. There are good reasons for most of their characteristics, and much has been learned about how to use them effectively. The manual media we chose as models were paper and ink (the display), pointing devices (the mouse and cursor), and keyboard devices ranging from typewriters to pianos and organs. first commercialized on the later Xerox Star, and one of the first with a mouse-driven graphical user interface (GUI) after Douglas Engelbart’s oN-Line System (NLS) and several other innovations in user interfaces of the time. It was not a commercial product, but several thousand units were built and were heavily used at PARC, other Xerox facilities, and at several universities for many years. The Alto greatly influenced the design of personal computers in the following decades, notably the Apple Macintosh and the first Sun workstations.