That place is worth a visit if you have a chance - they've got working machines going back to the 50s that you can play around with.
> These demos used an Alto that had been restored to working order over the past eight months.
The Alto had to be one of the greatest design prototypes ever made. It wasn't ever made for sale, AFAIK, even though supposedly hundreds got shared with universities. But they built over a thousand and actually used them on an actual network. Every part of the system was continually developed in real world use.
Even so, the performance, cost, and other rough edged impediments were too far away to commercialize it. The Star and the Lisa were failures.
The Mac team had to hand code high performance graphic algorithms to get a GUI running in 128k, and a cheap one button mouse so they could make an affordable GUI computer for the masses. They had to come up with the Finder, the Desktop and Trashcan so that users never had to be exposed to a CLI. Even Bill Atkinsons invention of regions might have been key to making the Mac UI expressive enough to succeed with the general population.
If you haven't visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, I highly recommend it.
> Most of this vision of the “office of the future” was first unveiled at a meeting of Xerox executives held on 10 Nov 1977, which was 40 years ago last week.
It it wasn't available for personal use, this is a delusional claim. Maybe the first prototype of a personal computer. But that's all it was - a (impressive) technical prototype.