Xerox Alto

The 1st computer designed to support a GUI

Announcement / Release
March 1973
around 1981
Birth Place
Palo Alto, California, United States of America


The Xerox Alto is the first computer designed from the start to support an operating system based on a graphical user interface (GUI). The Alto uses a custom multi-chip central processing unit (CPU) filling a small cabinet, and each machine cost tens of thousands of dollars despite being intended to be used as a personal computer. Only small numbers were built initially, but by the late 1970s about 1,000 were in use at various Xerox labs, and about another 500 in several universities. Total production was about 2,000 systems. The Alto became well known in silicon valley and its GUI was increasingly seen as the future of computing.

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