Smalltalk to the Market

Evelyn Van Orden

Smalltalk was developed at Xerox PARC in the early 1970’s as the interactive, windows-based software environment for the Xerox Alto, the world’s first personal computer. Smalltalk is the world’s first pure object-oriented programming (OOP) environment. Three versions were developed at PARC: Smalltalk-72, Smalltalk-76, and Smalltalk-80 (the numbers reflect the year in which they were developed). In 1979, while at Xerox Special Information Systems (XSIS), Evelyn used Smalltalk-76 on an Alto to develop PubEditor aka Quicksilver and in 1980 demonstrated it to R.R. Donnelley and the U.S. Government Intelligence Community. These demos led to lucrative contracts to develop and deliver Smalltalk applications.

In 1983, Xerox PARC released Smalltalk-80 to the world and transferred the technology to XSIS. Evelyn was responsible for engineering, beta-testing, supporting, documenting, and marketing internationally the Xerox Smalltalk-80 Programming Environment for the Xerox 1100 (Dolphin), Xerox 1132 (Dorado), and Xerox 1108 (Star) workstations.

This presentation describes the process of moving Smalltalk from the research environment, preparing it as a commercial product, then marketing it as a programming environment for rapid prototyping of windows-based operating systems and applications, and also as an applications development/delivery environment for commercial and government applications such as The Analyst, Analyst Spreadsheet Package (ASP), Analyst Maps, and HUMBLE Expert System Shell. Evelyn will describe how she devised clever marketing strategies that yielded high returns for relatively small investments. Historical and technical information not previously published will be presented. Vintage photos, documents, artifacts, and memorabilia from Evelyn’s private Smalltalk collection will be displayed.