Remembering the future: PARC 1987 & Microsoft 2006

I was checking out the very engaging ‘Milestones‘ timeline on the PARC website and came across an image that evoked a sense of deja vu. The other place I had seen something very similar was in a Microsoft ‘Future Vision of Manufacturing‘ video. Here are the images:

Xerox PARC CoLab circa 1987


Microsoft Future Vision of Manufacturing collaborative screen circa 2006

The first image depicts the Xerox PARC ‘CoLab‘ collaborative workspace and tools research conducted in the late 1980s. Two people are working on the same sketch from different sides of the screen, which are actually located in different places. The second comes from the aforementioned Microsoft video. Two business men on different sides of the world discuss a wireframe of a proposed car seat, to be manufactured. Interestingly the Microsoft video came about 20 years after the PARC project documented in the first image.

Technology futures are not always novel, what is envisaged can have a significant heritage. Yesterday’s tomorrows can easily become today’s tomorrows with some deft recycling. As Picasso said: ‘good artists copy…’

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