"Great Artists Steal"
The Apple raid on Xerox PARC is sometimes described as one of the biggest heists in the chronicles of industry.
Jobs occasionally endorsed this view, with pride.
As he once said, "Picasso had a saying:'good artists copy, great artists steal',and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas."
Another assessment, also sometimes endorsed by Jobs, is that what transpired was less a heist by Apple than a fumble by Xerox.
"They were copier-heads who had no clue about what a computer could do," he said of Xerox's management.
"They just grabbed defeat from the greatest victory in the computer industry.
Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry."
Both assessments contain a lot of truth, but there is more to it than that.
There falls a shadow, as T.S. Eliot noted, between the conception and the creation.
In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation.Execution is just as important.
Jobs and his engineers significantly improved the graphical interface ideas they saw at Xerox PARC, and then were able to implement them in ways that Xerox never could accomplish.
For example, the Xerox mouse had three buttons, was complicated, cost $300 apiece, and didn't roll around smoothly;
a few days after his second Xerox PARC visit, Jobs went to a local industrial design firm, IDEO, and told one of its founders, Dean Hovey, that he wanted a simple single- button model that cost $15,
"and I want to be able to use it on Formica and my blue jeans." Hovey complied.
The improvements were in not just the details but the entire concept.
The mouse at Xerox PARC could not be used to drag a window around the screen.
Apple's engineers devised an interface so you could not only drag windows and files around, you could even drop them into folders.
The Xerox system required you to select a command in order to do anything, ranging from resizing a window to changing the extension that located a file.
The Apple system transformed the desktop metaphor into virtual reality by allowing you to directly touch, manipulate, drag, and relocate things.
And Apple's engineers worked in tandem with its designers,with Jobs spurring them on daily
to improve the desktop concept by adding delightful icons and menus that pulled down from a bar atop each window and the capability to open files and folders with a double click.