Back in the 1970’s when I was working at Xerox’s famed Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) we had a capability added to our Alto computers that was very cool.  After Gary Starkweather of our lab invented the laser printer, we started building some for our own use and for other Xerox facilities to use as well.  These printers all received data from the Ethernet (also developed at PARC by Bob Metcalfe and David Boggs). While most of the printers were in our buildings, some of these printers were located at other Xerox facilities around the country.  So it was decided that the graphical user interface would show all available printers, no matter where in the country they were.  Of course the printer names revealed their location, and the printers were connected to computers that were on the Internet precursor, Arpanet.  This meant that a document could be printed in a remote destination for someone there, all with a single click.

I mention this because Google is now providing a similar service to let people print on any networked printer in the world.  My guess is that people who work across many locations will use this service a lot.  Instead of using FedEx to send a document overnight, why not just print it at the destination instead?

It took 35 years for the idea to make it from our lab into the real world, but my guess is that people will find the wait worthwhile.

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