menu

George Parker: Fumbling The Future!

George Parker: Fumbling The Future!
Advertising

George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com. Every week he shares his opinions on the advertising world with PSFK.

George Parker
  • 15 june 2010

I have to confess that I always chuckle when I hear people arguing about what has contributed most to business productivity in the last one hundred years. Obviously, many people claim it was the introduction of the personal computer – Yeah, OK, Apple Freaks, we know you were in the game early, but most would argue that IBM gave it legitimacy with corporate America – Either way, it was a pivotal moment, but my money is on something that happened twenty odd years earlier. The 1960 introduction of the Xerox 914 photocopier, an invention that improved office productivity in an amazing way. In fact, many years later Fortune called the 914 “the most successful product ever marketed in America measured by return on investment.”

Never forget, before the dry copier, Mad Men like secretaries had to make carbon copies and cut stencils, then spend hours cleaning all the shit off their hands. It was a messy, time consuming and unpleasant procedure. The Xerox 914 changed all that, as well as becoming an unbelievable cash generating machine for the company… Yet its very success almost destroyed Xerox and has been extensively written about, particularly in a great book published in 1988 and re-issued in 1999, Fumbling the Future: How Xerox invented, then ignored the first personal computer.

In the sixties and seventies Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Company (PARC) invented just about every fucking thing you can imagine. That includes what was recognized as the first true PC – The Xerox Alto… This sucker had everything, Ethernet networking, graphical user interface, icons, bit mapping, scalable type, the mouse, the world’s first laser printer, hot and cold running water. It was years ahead of its time. So what did Xerox management do with it? Not a god damn thing. They were too busy counting the money rolling in every time someone used a 914, ‘cos you couldn’t buy one, you had to lease it and pay for every single copy you made. The thing was a gold mine for years until the patents finally ran out.

As everyone knows, the main beneficiary of all the incredible shit coming out of PARC was GodJobs, ‘cos in its infinite wisdom, Xerox gave the King of Apple a conducted tour of PARC, showing him everything they were up to, even watching him as he made notes of everything he was shown. Within months he had hired away some of PARCS top talent and instituted a program that resulted in the Lisa (the forerunner of the Mac.)

The moral of the story, as I mentioned in last week’s column, is that the management at most Big Dumb Companies (BDA’s) and their Big Dumb Agencies (BDA’s), are douchenozzles. But then, you already knew that.

Strangest of all, even in its roughest years, Xerox continued to fund PARC, and they still do. The place continues to come up with amazing shit. Most of which, Xerox continues to ignore.

Oh, and their advertising continues to suck.

George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.

Advertising
Trending

Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Culture
Asia Yesterday

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Yesterday

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Yesterday

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Related Expert

Patrick Bergel

Teaching Machines to Sing

Design & Architecture Yesterday

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Yesterday

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Yesterday

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

PSFK Labs Yesterday

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Yesterday

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed

Retail Yesterday

Snapchat Reveals A Striking Pair Of Video-Recording Sunglasses

Spectacles make memories from your perspective and transfer them to the app

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Financial Services Yesterday

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

Design Yesterday

Concept Artists And Scientists Form Partnership To Visualize The Future

The collaboration hopes to liberate ideas and innovations trapped in notebooks

Automotive Yesterday

Uber Could Be Bringing Vertical Takeoff Transport To Your City

The ridesharing app is looking into the development of nimble aircraft for urban environments

No search results found.