Xerox PARC, Apple, and the Creation of the Mouse: It’s true – Apple didn’t invent the GUI, they kinda stole it. Malcolm Gladwell tells the story in the New Yorker in an article aptly titled “Creation Myth” (this is the abstract, not the whole article, which I, admittedly, have not read)
Nothing new is really new. It’s all just adapted.
Jobs was given a couple of tours, and he ended up standing in front of a Xerox Alto, PARC’s prized personal computer. Describes the innovations the Alto featured, including the mouse, icons, and “windows.” Xerox soon began selling a version of the Alto. It was slow and underpowered—and Xerox withdrew from personal computers. Jobs, meanwhile, raced back to Apple, and demanded that the team working on the company’s next generation of personal computers change course. He wanted menus on the screen. He wanted windows. He wanted a mouse. The result was the Macintosh, perhaps the most famous product in the history of Silicon Valley.
I first read this story years ago in the great book Dealers of Lightning.