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Engelbart's NLS pioneered some of the essential components necessary for the personal computer, but it would be up to a new generation of engineers to advance computing so it could embrace multimedia. As a graduate student in the late 1960s, Alan Kay wrote a highly influential Ph.D. thesis proposing a personal information management device that, in many ways, prefigured the laptop. In 1970, as research in information science was shifting from East Coast universities and military institutions to private digital companies in Silicon Valley, Kay was invited to join the new Xerox PARC in Palo Alto. PARC's mandate was no less than to create "the architecture of information for the future."

At PARC, Alan Kay conceived the idea of the Dynabook a notebook sized computer that enabled hyperlinking, was fully interactive, and integrated all media. With the Dynabook, digital multimedia came into being. Echoing Licklider, Engelbart and colleagues at PARC, Kay declared the personal computer a medium in its own right,. It was a "meta-medium," as he described it in his 1977 essay "Personal Dynamic Media," capable of being "all other media." While the Dynabook remained a prototype that was never built, the work that came from its development, including the invention of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and subsequent breakthroughs in dynamic computing, was incorporated into the first true multimedia computer, the Xerox Alto.