The founder of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox Parc) George Pake died of heart failure on March 4, aged 79.

Pake's Parc was influential in many ways, inspiring Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and generating many now-common computing technologies.

Pake ran the facility from its launch in 1970 until 1978. The Xerox research house developed technologies later used in laser printing, Ethernet networking and client-server architectures.

Apple took the Parc's graphical user interface (GUI) out of the labs and into the public eye with the Macintosh twenty years ago. GUIs are now commonplace across computer platforms.

Pake served as Xerox vice-president of corporate research from 1978 until 1986. For the last 16 years he was director emeritus at Xerox's Institute for Research on Learning.

Before joining Xerox, Pake was a leading physicist in nuclear magnetic resonance, and had been serving as provost of Washington University. He was recruited for Xerox by the company's chief scientist Jack Goldman in 1969.

Mark Bernstein, Parc's president and director, said Pake created "a grass-roots culture of innovation that has endured at Parc for more than three decades and became a model for the industry," he told Mercury News.

Among other awards, Pake received the National Medal of Science – the highest science honour in the US – in 1987.