George Pake


George E. Pake (April 1, 1924 – March 4, 2004) was a physicist and research executive primarily known for helping founded Xerox PARC.

George Pake
BornApril 1, 1924
DiedMarch 4, 2004(2004-03-04) (aged 79)
Alma materCarnegie Institute of Technology
Harvard University
AwardsIRI Medal (1986)
National Medal of Science (1987)
Scientific career
InstitutionsWashington University in St. Louis
Stanford University
Xerox PARC
Doctoral advisorEdward Mills Purcell

Early lifeEdit

Pake was raised in Kent, Ohio. His father was an English instructor at Kent State University.[1]: 3  His mother was a schoolteacher.[citation needed]

Pake was exempted from service in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II due to scoliosis. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and his doctorate in physics at Harvard University in 1948.


After four years as a physics professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Pake became the head of the physics department at age 28.[2] He later went on to become provost of the university from 1962 to 1970 before leaving to serve as founding director of Xerox PARC.

Pake served on the President's Science Advisory Committee (1965-1969).[3] He was president of the American Physical Society in 1977.

PARC assembled a first-rate collection of research talent, especially in the area of computer science. During Pake's years running Xerox PARC, the research center invented the laser printer and pioneered the use of a computer "desktop" which functioned by clicking on "icons." This has since become the computer industry standard.

Despite advocacy by Pake, the Xerox Corporation never chose to open a personal computer division. Pake left Xerox in 1986 to direct the nonprofit Institute for Research on Learning in Palo Alto.[4] He remained director emeritus until the time of his death.[5]

Late in life, Pake began writing two different books, both with the collaborator Andrew Szanton. Pake's death, of heart failure on March 4, 2004 in Tucson, Arizona, interrupted both book projects.


In 1986, Pake was awarded the illustrious IRI Medal from the Industrial Research Institute for recognition of his leadership in the field of technology and innovation. Pake was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science in 1987 and continued to visit PARC long after his 1986 retirement from Xerox.

George E. Pake PrizeEdit

Since 1984, the American Physical Society has been awarding the George E. Pake Prize, endowed in 1983 by the Xerox Corporation, to recognize outstanding work by physicists combining original research accomplishments with leadership in the management of research or development in industry.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Pake married Marjorie Semon on May 31, 1947; they had four children: Warren, Bruce, Cathie and Steve.[1]: 20 


  1. ^ a b Slichter, Charles P. (2009). "George Edward Pake 1924—2004" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Markoff, John (March 11, 2004). "George Pake, Computer Pioneer, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  3. ^ "United States. President's Science Advisory Committee". Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  4. ^ Pham, Alex (March 11, 2004). "George E. Pake, 79; Physicist Directed Xerox's Famous Palo Alto Research Center". Lots Angeles Times. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "George Pake Godfather of the computer revolution". The Independent. March 15, 2004. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  6. ^ "George E. Pake Prize". American Physical Society. 2018. Retrieved January 17, 2018.

External linksEdit

  • George Pake, Xerox PARC founder, dies (