Gary Keith Starkweather was born on January 9, 1938 in Lansing, Michigan, the only child of Richard and Crystal Starkweather. His father owned a local dairy; His mother was a housewife. His house was near a scrap shop, where Gary negotiated for old radios, washing machines and car parts with which he could play in the basement, disassemble them and then reassemble them.
“As long as the house didn’t explode, I was allowed to do what I wanted there,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Computer History Museum.
While studying physics at Michigan State University, he met Joyce Attard, a nursing student two years after him. They married in 1961 and moved to Rochester to join Bausch & Lomb, which at that time manufactured glasses for glasses, cameras, microscopes and other equipment.
After several of his colleagues were fired, they moved to Xerox, and he followed them.
His transfer to PARC came after he read about the laboratory in the company newsletter. After visiting PARC in 1970, he phoned his wife in the cold Rochester and asked him how he felt when he moved to sunny Palo Alto. His response, he recalled, was: “When I get home I will have the furniture on the street.”
As he developed his printer, his new colleagues built a personal computer that could handle it: the Alto, a machine that eventually gave rise to Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows computers.
“One of the objectives of the Alto was to build a computer that could work with images that were as flexible as those made with all the graphic arts tools that had been developed in the past 500 years,” Butler Lampson, who founded the Alto project, He said in an interview. “We made it possible to do that on the screen. And Gary made it possible to take the information on the screen and put it on paper. ”