= Xerox Alto = The [[Xerox Alto]] computer was developed at the Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) and released in March 1, 1973. The Alto was the first computer to make user of a graphical user interface, including a mouse to interact with on-screen buttons and icons. Although Xerox did not immediately commercialise the ideas embodied in the Alto, they did demonstrate it to a team from Apple Computers, who later incorporated many of the ideas into the graphical interface of the Apple Lisa and the Macintosh. == Taking the Alto for a test drive == This page provides a working demo of the Xerox Alto using the SALTO [[emulator]] by Juergen Buchmueller. There is a good walk-through of the SALTO emulator on [[toastytech.com]]
# The emulation on this page is currently slow and buggy. At this stage it is a work-in-progress. # The text on the Alto's screen is too small to read; hover the mouse cursor on the screen and click the magnifying glass to expand. # The keyboard will often fail to register keys; to type, hold down each key down until it appears.
== The Alto Executive == { "icons" : [ ["Boot Disk", "boot-hd", "/disks/alto-games.dsk"] ] } Upon boot, you will be presented with the text-based Alto Executive. A mouse cursor is visible at all times, but appears to serve no function at this point. At the prompt, type "?" to list the files on disk; files with the ".RUN" extension are executables. You can start a program by typing the first few distinguishing letters of their names—for example, typing "nep" followed by ENTER is sufficient start the NEPTUNE file manager. Although the Xerox Alto is noted for being the first computer to make use of a graphical user interface, these features were limited to the few programs that chose to use them. == The NEPTUNE File Manager == The NEPTUNE file is an example of a mouse-based program. It allows the user to rename, delete or copy files. The interface resembles a modern dialog box, with two file lists, rudimentary scroll bars and buttons for initiating actions. The mouse cursor is context sensitive, changing shapes on different parts of the screen. == Notable Games and Demos == Several games can be started from the Alto Executive prompt (you need only type the __underlined__ letters): ; __pi__nball : A very impressive graphical pinball game ; __poo__l : A billards simulator ; __ma__ze : A maze game, very similar to the one later shipped with the [[Apple Macintosh]]. ; __mi__ssile : Protect the cities from incoming missiles ; __sp__acewar : A StarTrek simulator ; __f__ly : Appears to be a fly-swatting game ; __ba__ttleship : A networked battleship game; not playable since there is no network There are also a few graphics demos: ; __pol__ygons : A polygon painting demonstration ; __k__inetic4 : Makes Mondrian style art == Maze War: The First Multi-Player First Person Shooter == [[figure-float-right:/artwork/alto-mazewar.jpg Maze Wars on the Alto, [http://www.digibarn.com/collections/games/xerox-maze-war/ www.digibarn.com] ]] In 1973, Steve Colley developed one of the most well-know game for the Xerox Alto: Maze War. The first version of Maze War only allowed the player to explore a 3D maze alone, but it was later enhanced to allow other players to join the game. Players were rendered as eyeballs and the game allowed players to shoot each other. Thus, Maze War was the very first multi-player first person shooter game. Several articles have been written about this ground-breaking game and its place in history: * [[The Maze War 30 Year Retrospective]] at the DigiBarn * [[The First First-Person Shooter]] by Richard Moss Although I have not yet located a copy of Maze War that could be played in the emulator, you can get a taste of what playing Maze War might have been like by playing MazeWars+, a 1986 remake for the [[Apple Macintosh]] that allows up to sixteen players to play simultaneously: { "icons" : [ ["Play MazeWars+ Online", "folder", "Maze-War.html", {"className": "world"}] ], "class" : "" } == Inside the Xerox Alto == For a comprehesive look inside the Alto, I highly recommend Ken Shirriff's multi-part series on the Alto. The series documents restoring a Xerox Alto to operating condition, includes tons of photos, software walk-throughs and technical details on how the Alto hardware and software operated. * [[Y Combinator's Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer]] * [[Restoring Y Combinator's Xerox Alto, day 2: Repairing the display]] * [[Restoring Y Combinator's Xerox Alto, day 3: Inside the disk drive]] * [[Restoring Y Combinator's Xerox Alto, day 4: What's running on the system]] === See also: === * [[History of the GUI]] * [[Historic Software]] === References === # http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Alto # http://www.digibarn.com/collections/games/xerox-maze-war/ toastytech.com emulator The Maze War 30 Year Retrospective History of the GUI Historic Software The First First-Person Shooter Y Combinator's Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer Restoring Y Combinator's Xerox Alto, day 2: Repairing the display Restoring Y Combinator's Xerox Alto, day 3: Inside the disk drive Restoring Y Combinator's Xerox Alto, day 4: What's running on the system