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Xerox Cedar "Viewers Window Package" 1987|
Xerox Cedar "Viewers Window Package"
I just want to add a little bit about the Xerox Cedar "Viewers Window
Package" environment. Cedar is a programming language based on Mesa, with
some similarities to Smalltalk.
Sort of like Mesa and Smalltalk, Cedar is another all-in-one programming
environment and GUI with a focus on documents.
It was developed at Xerox Parc after the Xerox Star, but as far as I
can tell this was never used commercially. It was first "put to use" in
1982, and these screen photos seem to be from 1983.
The screen photos are from several PDF documents available online:
Cedar Programming Environment: A Midterm Report and Examination
Tour Through Cedar
These provide much, much more detail about the system, applications,
and programming language.
Youtube also has a video about Cedar Documents
as User Interfaces.
Cedar ran on the Xerox Dorado systems - a faster high-end development
workstation that followed the Alto.
The screen display was very high resolution for the time, slightly exceeding
This shows the clock and FileTool.
The most notable thing is that this looks a heck of a lot like Microsoft
Windows 1.0. Even more so if you compare it to the 1983
This included tiling window management, a dedicated icon area at the
bottom, a scalable clock, a message area at the top, and some applications
have many menu items in their menu bar.
This shows an additional application, the documentation browser, open
in another tile.
As the mouse moves over a window's caption bar, it changes to reveal
the window management options.
Of course, being from Xerox, the entire thing revolves around documents.
The document system is very powerful and blurs the lines between documents
"The above snapshot of the Cedar display illustrates some of Cedar's
capabilities. At the bottom of the screen are icons representing: a mail
facility, a spelling tool (for use as a proofreader), a printer, a remote
file server, plus various documents that the user is editing or simply
examining. In the center portion of the screen Cedar's integration is readily
apparent. A tool for monitoring performance, an executive, a debugger,
a document preparation system (editing this very sentence), and a scanned
image all share the same working space."
Most of the Cedar document above focuses on the programming language.
Both the language and the development interface are integrated in to this
Although part of the programming tools, it includes an icon editor.
Interestingly, the documentation describes how the system can use network
Remote Procedure Calls (RPC). This was fairly new, and drastically decreased
the amount of development time needed to make distributed applications.
The above is supposed to be a game using RPC to communicate with other
RPC is an interesting idea as it enables applications to run locally
on each computer while passing minimal information over a network where
another machine processes it. This way, each application or service does
not have to implement its own protocol.
This is another thing Microsoft eventually adopted in their Windows
NT products. In Windows NT, Microsoft heavily used RPC in their remote
management tools. This way an administrator could use a single application
running on a single computer to manage accounts, shares, and system configuration
without having to remote control the remote user's GUI or use hacky scripting.
Although, it can be a security nightmare.
In conclusion, Microsoft stole a lot of people from Xerox Parc. Clearly
there was much influence directly from this system in the Windows product.