Fumbling the Future

Author: Douglas K. Smith and Robert C. Alexander

Release: January 1, 1988

Tagline: How Xerox Invented Then Ignored the First Personal Computer

Publisher: William Morrow & Co.

Genre: History, Business, Technology, Computers

ISBN-10: 0688069592
ISBN-13: 978-0688069599

Synopsis: Discusses Xerox Corporation’s invention of a personal computer preceding Apple and Tandy, and explains why they were unable to take advantage of their discovery

Declassified by Agent Palmer: Don’t Copy Xerox’s Errors as Told in Fumbling the Future

Quotes and Lines

And to Peter McColough change signaled opportunity, and opportunity required action instead of reflection.

Contrary to Ford, chutzpah apparently still counted for something at Xerox.

In McColough’s opinion, the office of 1980 would hardly resemble the one of 1970.

“The basic purpose of Xerox Corporation is to find the best means to bring greater order and discipline to information. Thus our fundamental thrust, our common denominator, has evolved toward establishing leadership in what we call ‘the architecture of information.’” – McColough

By failing to bring the Alto to market, Xerox lost much more than money or opportunity. They lost faith–in themselves, in their past, and in their future.

“Thus when the Xerox people finally did begin to recognize their problem, it was only an intellectual recognition. It wasn’t visceral. They didn’t really feel there was a problem because they really feel any pain.”

The Shugart success made Massaro rich, confirmed his appetite for risk, and marked him off from the ranks of executives he was about to join: “He’s a real fireball,” said one analyst who followed Xerox. “He is an entrepreneur, and you really don’t find an entrepreneur in a big corporation.”

Said [Don] Massaro, “These were three of the best years of my life. In the first two, I Was a hero; in the third, I fell on my sword, and so I was an asshole.”