re: Apple Vs. The Swiss Railways Patent
I understand the point of the article, but it misses the target. So, sure, every company copies some minor aspect of something else once in a while, there's nothing new in that. But copying major elements of a complex design is different. As far as Apple at Parc, the author either doesn't know the real story of the events around that, or is deliberately leaving the most important parts out.
Xerox invited Jobs to Parc to show him what they were doing with a UI. He wasn't there on some public tour. Apple and Xerox had a business arrangement, Xerox was actually inviting Apple to license the UI. A deal was done, with Xerox receiving Apple stock. Apple then took that primitive UI and made major changes, such as overlapping windows, which the Xerox didn't have.
It's interesting to note that after Apple designed their superior version, Xerox came out with their own computer, called the Xerox Star. I remember this pretty well. It cost $15,000, in the currency of the time, while the much superior Lisa cost $8,000. While neither was a commercial success, it killed Xerox's computer ambitions, while Apple's went on to thrive.
This is the story as it actually existed, and as it should have been told here.
The story given as to Apple and Microsoft's relationship using the Mac UI is equally inaccurate.