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the history of the xerox printer: from office equipment to technological breakthrough

Coming to work every day, starting from Monday and ending on Friday, Maria a manager, opens the office door, turns on the coffee machine, sits down at her desk, shifts the ballpoint pen from the left edge of the desk to the right, and finally presses the button on the system unit of her work computer.

For Maria nothing out of the ordinary happens on this ordinary day. She has ten to twenty seconds until her standard working tool turns on. After that, Maria will send about twenty letters, write a chat to seven of her colleagues, calculate a couple of numbers on a calculator and print thirty sheets on a Xerox brand office printer.

For Maria, this is commonplace.

Meanwhile, in the office corner is the same printer, the same company that started it all.

Forgotten Heroes

If you ask Maria about the printer, she will raise an eyebrow in surprise and say that it is a Xerox of some model, it prints quite well, and it has many useful features. And this company itself produces printers, scanners and other office printing equipment, and in general it inspires confidence. And then she will ask you not to go in with stupid questions.

Meanwhile, without the invention of Xerox, Maria would not have sent twenty letters, would not have written to seven colleagues, and all the other things that she would do during a day.

Imagine that you turn on your computer, but instead of the usual desktop, you see this:

It's scary, incomprehensible and absolutely not clear what to do with it.

Until the 1970s, computer interfaces looked like dark backgrounds with symbols. No double clicks, usual windows and trash cans with deleted documents. In 1973, Xerox invented the first graphical user interface. Yes, yes, these are the ones that produce printers.

Now it seems normal and understandable, but for the 70s the GUI was a big breakthrough. For their interface, they used the metaphor of the office: the file turned into a document icon, the place to store them in a folder, into a place for deleted documents in the trash. It used to be just a line of text on the screen. And now the interface has become clear, intuitive and ready to meet with the mass user.

Then professional designers got involved, and the icons became more elaborate and detailed:

And then the design:

And design, and design, and design:

While typing this text in MS Word in 2019, I still see the floppy disk icon that will save all changes when clicked. Floppy disks went out of use more than fifteen years ago - will they soon come up with another metaphor for saving a document?

Why is the cursor crooked?

Things we don't understand seem monolithic, whole, and obscure. When turning on the computer, the standard user does not think that this black box contains a million parts, each of which is responsible for its own little business. It's just a thing that works. Or doesn't work. The computer is not a magic box. Rather, a watch with millions and millions of gears.

The same goes for operating systems. We don't even need to think about what it is. We press the button, wait for the download and do our thing. We don't care that every mouse move we make runs a huge number of algorithms that sometimes run and sometimes throw errors.

In fact, we don't even need to think about the fact that the operating system and the computer are not directly related. In the store they will sell us a ready-made monolithic system, which will only have to be turned on. And if something goes wrong, then a friend who is smarter in this matter will come to “reinstall Windows”.

Operating systems are diverse. And they are as similar as they are different. But every graphical operating system has a cursor. It somehow happened that the cursor is an arrow tilted at 45 degrees.

We are used to seeing an arrow like this:

Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse, first sketched the cursor as an up arrow.

And it had to look like like this:

This cursor seems foreign, unfamiliar and alien. But such it should have been, if not for technical limitations.

At the time of designing the first computer with a graphical interface, it turned out that the resolution of the screens is so small that it does not allow drawing an exactly vertical arrow in a sufficiently miniature way. The pointer was enlarged and tilted 45 degrees. And the guys from Xerox came up with it. As we found out, these are the guys who make printers.

Now it is possible to draw a vertical arrow, but it is no longer necessary. Everyone is used to it.

GUI metaphors

In some variants of operating systems, the shredder played the role of the usual basket. The icon was very similar to a printer and was abandoned.

The computer desktop is a metaphor for the desktop. Windows, folders, documents and a calculator - all this seems familiar to us in a computer, although it is not at all what we are used to seeing. A Word document is not a paper sheet at all, but it makes it clearer to us. Even the usual dragging of elements around the screen has a metaphor - rearranging things on the table.

There are also strange metaphors. Have you ever wondered why the menu on some websites is hidden behind a hamburger icon?

Norm Cox invented the "hamburger". Norm is an interactive and user interface design consultant. And he came up with this icon for Xerox. If it seems to you that Xerox is something like Freemasons in the field of interface, then it may well be.

Great restrictions were imposed on the design conditions of the "burger": the icon had to be as simple as a road sign, functional, easy to remember and like a list. And most importantly - very small.

And then this idea was born.

Then the “burger” icon disappeared for a long time and returned as an element of the mobile menu, for which it was ideal: small and functional. But is it intuitive? Each modern user will answer the question of what will happen if you click this icon - a menu will open. But, if you think about it, this metaphor is not so successful: it's just three lines in a row, and for an unenlightened user, they mean nothing.

And here's another question: did Norm know what modern "burgers" would become, what his concise icon of three lines in a row would turn into?

Instead of afterword

The interfaces haven't changed much since the first Xerox Research Center documentaries. We still recognize things familiar to us in the sketches of the 70s. This is either a sign of the stagnation of the field of interfaces as a whole, or the genius of the original metaphor.

In any case, Maria, the manager, does not have to remember dozens of console commands to send mail, but simply press a button. Dragging elements around the desktop is as familiar as breathing, clicking on a button is ordinary and understandable. But, in fact, this is a huge work and a brilliant idea from Palo Alto.

And, it would seem, just a printer in the corner.

And at the end of a little parable:

Once a sysadmin asked:

— Teacher, would you like a beautiful picture for your desktop? I have a good collection of desktop wallpapers with starry sky and moral law.

Why do you think my current wallpaper is worse? Yin Fu Wo asked back.

I don't know what picture you have now. I have never seen your desktop. You always have many windows open.

“I never saw it either,” Yin said. - I am working.

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Privacy Policy

1. An overview of data protection

General

The following gives a simple overview of what happens to your personal information when you visit our website. Personal information is any data with which you could be personally identified. Detailed information on the subject of data protection can be found in our privacy policy found below.

Data collection on our website

Who is responsible for the data collection on this website? The data collected on this website are processed by the website operator. The operator’s contact details can be found in the website’s required legal notice.

How do we collect your data?

Some data are collected when you provide it to us. This could, for example, be data you enter on a contact form.

Other data are collected automatically by our IT systems when you visit the website. These data are primarily technical data such as the browser and operating system you are using or when you accessed the page. These data are collected automatically as soon as you enter our website.

What do we use your data for?

Part of the data is collected to ensure the proper functioning of the website. Other data can be used to analyze how visitors use the site.

What rights do you have regarding your data?

You always have the right to request information about your stored data, its origin, its recipients, and the purpose of its collection at no charge. You also have the right to request that it be corrected, blocked, or deleted. You can contact us at any time using the address given in the legal notice if you have further questions about the issue of privacy and data protection. You may also, of course, file a complaint with the competent regulatory authorities.

Analytics and third-party tools

When visiting our website, statistical analyses may be made of your surfing behavior. This happens primarily using cookies and analytics. The analysis of your surfing behavior is usually anonymous, i.e. we will not be able to identify you from this data. You can object to this analysis or prevent it by not using certain tools. Detailed information can be found in the following privacy policy.

You can object to this analysis. We will inform you below about how to exercise your options in this regard.

2. General information and mandatory information

Data protection

The operators of this website take the protection of your personal data very seriously. We treat your personal data as confidential and in accordance with the statutory data protection regulations and this privacy policy.

If you use this website, various pieces of personal data will be collected. Personal information is any data with which you could be personally identified. This privacy policy explains what information we collect and what we use it for. It also explains how and for what purpose this happens.

Please note that data transmitted via the internet (e.g. via email communication) may be subject to security breaches. Complete protection of your data from third-party access is not possible.

Notice concerning the party responsible for this website
The party responsible for processing data on this website is:

ICU CO., LTD.
Telephone: +66815434565
E-Mail: hello@icu.agency
Company registration number: 0845566007085

The responsible party is the natural or legal person who alone or jointly with others decides on the purposes and means of processing personal data (names, email addresses, etc.).

Revocation of your consent to the processing of your data

Many data processing operations are only possible with your express consent. You may revoke your consent at any time with future effect. An informal email making this request is sufficient. The data processed before we receive your request may still be legally processed.

SSL or TLS encryption

This site uses SSL or TLS encryption for security reasons and for the protection of the transmission of confidential content, such as the inquiries you send to us as the site operator. You can recognize an encrypted connection in your browser’s address line when it changes from “http://” to “https://” and the lock icon is displayed in your browser’s address bar.

If SSL or TLS encryption is activated, the data you transfer to us cannot be read by third parties.

Information, blocking, deletion

As permitted by law, you have the right to be provided at any time with information free of charge about any of your personal data that is stored as well as its origin, the recipient and the purpose for which it has been processed. You also have the right to have this data corrected, blocked or deleted. You can contact us at any time using the address given in our legal notice if you have further questions on the topic of personal data.

Opposition to promotional emails

We hereby expressly prohibit the use of contact data published in the context of website legal notice requirements with regard to sending promotional and informational materials not expressly requested. The website operator reserves the right to take specific legal action if unsolicited advertising material, such as email spam, is received.

3. Data protection officer

Statutory data protection officer

We have appointed a data protection officer for our company.

Alexander Rusin
ICU CO., LTD.
Telephone: +66815434565
E-Mail: hello@icu.agency
Company registration number: 0845566007085

4. Data collection on our website

Cookies

Some of our web pages use cookies. Cookies do not harm your computer and do not contain any viruses. Cookies help make our website more user-friendly, efficient, and secure. Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer and saved by your browser.

Most of the cookies we use are so-called “session cookies.” They are automatically deleted after your visit. Other cookies remain in your device’s memory until you delete them. These cookies make it possible to recognize your browser when you next visit the site.

You can configure your browser to inform you about the use of cookies so that you can decide on a case-by-case basis whether to accept or reject a cookie. Alternatively, your browser can be configured to automatically accept cookies under certain conditions or to always reject them, or to automatically delete cookies when closing your browser. Disabling cookies may limit the functionality of this website.

Cookies which are necessary to allow electronic communications or to provide certain functions you wish to use (such as the shopping cart) are stored pursuant to Art. 6 paragraph 1, letter f of DSGVO. The website operator has a legitimate interest in the storage of cookies to ensure an optimized service provided free of technical errors. If other cookies (such as those used to analyze your surfing behavior) are also stored, they will be treated separately in this privacy policy.

Server log files

The website provider automatically collects and stores information that your browser automatically transmits to us in “server log files”. These are:

Browser type and browser version
Operating system used
Referrer URL
Host name of the accessing computer
Time of the server request
IP address
These data will not be combined with data from other sources.

The basis for data processing is Art. 6 (1) (b) DSGVO, which allows the processing of data to fulfill a contract or for measures preliminary to a contract.

5. Analytics and advertising

Google Analytics

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service. It is operated by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.

Google Analytics uses so-called “cookies”. These are text files that are stored on your computer and that allow an analysis of the use of the website by you. The information generated by the cookie about your use of this website is usually transmitted to a Google server in the USA and stored there.

Google Analytics cookies are stored based on Art. 6 (1) (f) DSGVO. The website operator has a legitimate interest in analyzing user behavior to optimize both its website and its advertising.

IP anonymization

We have activated the IP anonymization feature on this website. Your IP address will be shortened by Google within the European Union or other parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area prior to transmission to the United States. Only in exceptional cases is the full IP address sent to a Google server in the US and shortened there. Google will use this information on behalf of the operator of this website to evaluate your use of the website, to compile reports on website activity, and to provide other services regarding website activity and Internet usage for the website operator. The IP address transmitted by your browser as part of Google Analytics will not be merged with any other data held by Google.

Browser plugin

You can prevent these cookies being stored by selecting the appropriate settings in your browser. However, we wish to point out that doing so may mean you will not be able to enjoy the full functionality of this website. You can also prevent the data generated by cookies about your use of the website (incl. your IP address) from being passed to Google, and the processing of these data by Google, by downloading and installing the browser plugin available at the following link: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=en.

Objecting to the collection of data

You can prevent the collection of your data by Google Analytics by clicking on the following link. An opt-out cookie will be set to prevent your data from being collected on future visits to this site: Disable Google Analytics.

For more information about how Google Analytics handles user data, see Google’s privacy policy: support.google.com

Outsourced data processing

We have entered into an agreement with Google for the outsourcing of our data processing and fully implement the strict requirements of the German data protection authorities when using Google Analytics.

Demographic data collection by Google Analytics

This website uses Google Analytics’ demographic features. This allows reports to be generated containing statements about the age, gender, and interests of site visitors. This data comes from interest-based advertising from Google and third-party visitor data. This collected data cannot be attributed to any specific individual person. You can disable this feature at any time by adjusting the ads settings in your Google account or you can forbid the collection of your data by Google Analytics as described in the section “Refusal of data collection”.

Google Analytics Remarketing

Our websites use the features of Google Analytics Remarketing combined with the cross-device capabilities of Google AdWords and DoubleClick. This service is provided by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.

This feature makes it possible to link target audiences for promotional marketing created with Google Analytics Remarketing to the cross-device capabilities of Google AdWords and Google DoubleClick. This allows advertising to be displayed based on your personal interests, identified based on your previous usage and surfing behavior on one device (e.g. your mobile phone), on other devices (such as a tablet or computer).

Once you have given your consent, Google will associate your web and app browsing history with your Google Account for this purpose. That way, any device that signs in to your Google Account can use the same personalized promotional messaging.

To support this feature, Google Analytics collects Google-authenticated IDs of users that are temporarily linked to our Google Analytics data to define and create audiences for cross-device ad promotion.

You can permanently opt out of cross-device remarketing/targeting by turning off personalized advertising in your Google Account; follow this link: https://www.google.com/settings/ads/onweb/?hl=en.

The aggregation of the data collected in your Google Account data is based solely on your consent, which you may give or withdraw from Google per Art. 6 (1) (a) DSGVO. For data collection operations not merged into your Google Account (for example, because you do not have a Google Account or have objected to the merge), the collection of data is based on Art. 6 (1) (f) DSGVO. The website operator has a legitimate interest in analyzing anonymous user behavior for promotional purposes.

For more information and the Google Privacy Policy, go to: https://www.google.com/policies/technologies/ads/.

6. Newsletter

Newsletter data

If you would like to receive our newsletter, we require a valid email address as well as information that allows us to verify that you are the owner of the specified email address and that you agree to receive this newsletter. No additional data is collected or is only collected on a voluntary basis. We only use this data to send the requested information and do not pass it on to third parties.

We will, therefore, process any data you enter onto the contact form only with your consent per Art. 6 (1) (a) DSGVO. You can revoke consent to the storage of your data and email address as well as their use for sending the newsletter at any time, e.g. through the “unsubscribe” link in the newsletter. The data processed before we receive your request may still be legally processed.

The data provided when registering for the newsletter will be used to distribute the newsletter until you cancel your subscription when said data will be deleted. Data we have stored for other purposes (e.g. email addresses for the members area) remain unaffected.

Data processing is based on Art. 6 (1) (a) DSGVO. You may revoke your consent at any time by unsubscribing to the newsletter. The data processed before we receive your request may still be legally processed.

The data provided when registering for the newsletter will be used to distribute the newsletter until you cancel your subscription when said data will be deleted from our servers. Data we have stored for other purposes remains unaffected.

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