A Walk in the PARC

A Walk in the PARC: What missteps did Xerox take in transforming its computing research and innovations into viable commercial products?
Jeffrey Harris  | Fall 2009
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In 1969 copier maker Xerox took a page from Thomas Edison, using his idea of creating a corporate research center to germinate new inventions. The impetus for Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center was to create "the office of the future," with research in the fields of computer science, electronics and materials science. Yet despite hiring leading scientists who were credited with developing technologies for the modern computer, such as graphic displays, Xerox largely failed to commercialize the technology. Instead, Xerox formed a partnership with Apple Computer, taking a 2 stake in exchange for sharing its research. In this case students examine the history of Xerox and its research center before discussing the role of corporate laboratories and why Xerox failed to commercialize its computing innovations while Apple succeeded.

Case ID: 090321

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