This week’s prank du jour

For those of you who don’t speak Italian, this means “prank with ice cream on it,” which is not meant to be taken literally but rather is meant to be understood metaphorically, ie it is one of those expressions that means something different than its literal meaning, or as literature professors would say, it’s an “anachronism.” (How do I know this stuff? Like Tony Soprano, I did a semester and a half of college.) But on to this week’s assignment. One thing that has always really irked me is the way people have rewritten history to make it seem as if Apple copied the idea for a graphical user interface from Xerox PARC. Just go to Wikipedia and you’ll see these false claims still being made on the pages for Xerox PARC and the graphical user interface. I get the sense that they know their claims are false, since on the GUI page they even admit that “this article or section needs a complete rewrite.”

I’ll say it does. The page completely overlooks the fact that I designed the first GUI when I was in high school, and further refined it during my time at Reed College in Oregon. All on paper, of course, but still — the ideas were there, and this was long before PARC came up with their thing. What really irks me is that I brought my ideas to PARC on paper when I was just a kid, and they kept the drawings, told me they’d get back to me, and then never did. When I called they said, Oh, well, it’s kind of interesting but not for us. Next thing I know PARC comes out with the exact friggin thing. And what was I gonna do? Sue? I was just a kid. Besides I didn’t really care as long as the ideas got out into the world, because as you know I am all about the creativity and don’t care at all about money. I would never have complained except that years later the Xerox guys rewrote history and claimed that I copied from them.

So please. The GUI article needs a rewrite. The PARC article could use a few edits. Let’s set the record straight. And heck, if you want to include the stuff about PARC’s founders being Satanists, and how the original PARC logo included a pentagram, be my guest. Send links to your handiwork and I’ll publicize them.

Free fake copy of Leopard in beta to whoever does the best job and gets away with it.