Tuesday, 16 February 2010
In 1973 Xerox released the Alto personal computer. Decades before its time both in scope and content, the Alto used menus, a graphical user interface, bit-mapped graphics, an Ethernet connection, 2.5mb removable drive 'platters' and came complete with a 5 chord keyset and 3 button mouse... in 1973.
With software as vital as a basic word processor and paint program the Alto also boasted one of the world's earliest (if not earliest) first person shooter. Appropriately titled Maze War (demonstrated in this video here) the game saw players dual in a three dimensional labryinth, competing against each other on two separate computers using the Alto's Ethernet connection.
Unfortuneatly for everyone, the computer was never commercially released by Xerox, being seen as a threat to its core business of printed documents, and only saw the light of day in its incarnation as The Star in 1979 - priced at a sensible $16,000. Despite this, the Alto remains an innovative and inspiring invention in modern technological history.