Home | About | Collections | Stories | Help! | News & Links | Friends | Lets Talk! | Events & Visiting | Search

The Xerox 6085/Viewpoint "Daybreak"

The Xerox 6085 running Viewpoint is the direct successor of the Xerox Star 8010. The DigiBarn museum has a special interest in the lineage of Xerox workstations but especially the Star - Viewpoint - Globalview series as these represented the most complete implementation of the "Desktop Metaphor" of any systems until the advent of mature Desktop graphical interfaces later on the Mac and PC/Unix/Linux in the 1990s. These systems were a full 15 years ahead of their time with sophisticated WYSIWYG document composition, built in Ethernet, email, scanning networked laser printing, development environments including Smalltalk, and much more. The Xerox workstations, while a commercial failure, occupy an important position in the lineage of visual computing systems. There is a lot packed into these "little brown boxes" and a big story behind them, which will be elaborated on this site in the future. DigiBarn Museum Curator Bruce Damer's work on the Elixir Desktop was directly inspired and derivative of the graphical desktops you see here.

First Booting of the 6085s
at the DigiBarn in June 2002

Arrival of the Pathfinder Marine Xerox collection
at the DigiBarn in May 2002

Amazing: Xerox 6085 and 8000 series servers at work today
(with 7650 scanners, 4045 printers) at Pathfinder Marine in Quebec, Canada today!

System Specifications

Retailed for $15,000 in 1986-87
(see Charles Nichol's comment below)

Units Shipped:
Tens of thousands (see Stan Mulford's comment below)

Menu-driven, icons, mouse, high-resolution graphics on a full page monitor, built in and external storage devices, Ethernet

Numerous applications, see the Bushy Tree diagram

The Elixir Desktop and Applications,
the only surviving direct descendent of the windows-and-icons environment Star 8010, Viewpoint and Globalview

View videos from the time of the Xerox Star (1982-84) and from the Final Public Star Demo (1998)
(Quicktime streams)

DigiBarn's Xerox Alto II XM and the Alto Story

See "Maze War" a multi player 3D game
played in the 1970s at Xerox PARC and later on Xerox D-Machines networks (including the 6085), this could be one of the first "avatar" 3D environments.

Xerox 6085 and related Online and other Published Informational Resources

The Digibarn's extensive collection of Xerox computers and other artifacts

Our extensive Xerox Documentation including the 6085/Viewpoint

The Xerox Star 8010 interface including the (Xerox Star Icon) World According to Norm Cox

The Xerox "Star": A Retrospective
, a paper appearing in IEEE Computer, September 1989 and also in the book Human Computer Interaction: Toward the Year 2000 by Morgan Kaufman treatment of Star and 6085/Viewpoint, includes screen shots. See the full sized screen shot of the Star/Viewpoint screen here.

Dave Curbow's extensive Xerox Star Historical Documents.

Chris Heiny's excellent Star, Alto and 6085/Mesa Pages

The DigiBarn story on the "final" public demonstration of the Star 8010 and its announcement

Digibarn brochure on the Xerox Documenter System running on the 6085

Our scan of a 6085 mouse pad (works!)

Al Kossow's Alto page featuring the full story of the Xerox D* Machines.

Alan Freier's pages on the history of the Xerox D* Machines, Mesa PrincOps and Wildflower

Dick Sweet's ACM SIGPLAN paper on the Xerox Development Environment.

Dan Halbert's SmallStar, a guide to programming the Star user interface. Also see Allen's "Watch What I Do" set of documents related to UI & design.

See the DigiBarn Museum's pages on the Xerox Alto and Star 8010

See also: the DigiBarn Computer Museum Links Regarding the Birth of the Graphical User Interface

Digibarn virtual visitors' commentary on the Xerox 6085

Comment from virtual visitor Charles Nichols (September 2004)

You have a text box with an unknown price for the 6085 in 1981. I don't know what the price was then but in 1987 they cost $15,000 each. This was the price for a 4Mram system with a 19 inch monitor. The disc drive size was 80Mbyte (40M & 110M were also available). It was my recollectionj that the 6085 had a minimum 2.4Mram configuration but that was pretty much useless under ViewPoint.

Curator: Thanks Charles, correction made!

From Stan Mulford (April 2005)

Hello all, very interesting site. The next time I visit SF I'd like to come down for a visit. The Burlington Northern Railroad implemented the Xerox 6085 heavily in the late '80's to early '90's for MF emulation, word processing and email. They hired me from Digital Equipt. where I was a field service tech, mainly doing power supply adjustments and pm's on PDP 11/34's and 11/70's along with repair work on the Rainbow computers.

BN had approximately 800 6085 workstations in Ft Worth and 2500 total across their system that I was one of the administrators for in Ft Worth, primarily hired when increasing the hard drives from 20Mb to 40Mb. Instead of buying the over-priced 40Mb drives from Xerox, we modified and implemented the ST251 ourselves and saved a ton of money.
Recently we decided to locate some old parts and put together a little historical display on the various computer systems used at the railroad over the years, starting with the 6085. We found three towers, all documentation two monitors and one keyboard and one mouse, along with a documenter.

Got something to tell us about the Xerox 6085? Contact us!

Please send site comments to our Webmaster.
Please see our notices about the content of this site and its usage.
(cc) 1998- Digibarn Computer Museum, some rights reserved under this Creative Commons license.