Company, often a commercial bank, acting as trustee for individuals and businesses and providing related financial or estate-planning services. Trust services for individuals commonly include the administration of estates, living trusts (trusts that become effective during the lifetimes of their makers, or settlors), and testamentary trusts (trusts originating in a will). Services for businesses include the administration of corporate bond indentures and corporate pension funds. Trust companies may also serve as corporate stock registrars and as paying agents for the distribution of dividends.
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Financial organization that pools the funds of its shareholders and invests them in a diversified portfolio of securities. It differs from a mutual fund, which issues units representing diversified holdings rather than shares in the company itself. Investment trusts have a fixed number of shares for sale; their price depends on the market value of the underlying securities and on the demand for and supply of shares. The first modern investment trusts were formed in England and Scotland as early as 1860. Many early U.S. investment trusts failed with the collapse of the stock market in 1929, but others have since prospered under stricter federal regulation.
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Corporation that owns enough voting stock in one or more other companies to exercise control over them. A holding company provides a means of concentrating control of several companies with a minimum of investment; other means of gaining control, such as mergers or consolidations, are more complicated legally and more expensive. A holding company can reap the benefits of a subsidiary's goodwill and reputation while limiting its liability to the proportion of the subsidiary's stock that it owns. The parent company in a conglomerate corporation is usually a holding company.
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Specialized financial institution that supplies credit for the purchase of consumer goods and services. Finance companies purchase unpaid customer accounts at a discount from merchants and collect payments due from customers. They also grant small loans directly to consumers at a relatively high rate of interest.
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Any corporation registered and operating in more than one country at a time, usually with its headquarters in a single country. A firm's advantages in establishing itself multinationally include both vertical and horizontal economies of scale (reductions in cost that result from an expanded level of output). Critics usually regard the multinational corporation as destructive of local economies abroad and as prone to monopolistic practices. Seealso conglomerate.
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Specific legal form of organization of persons and material resources, chartered by the state, for the purpose of conducting business. As contrasted with the other two major forms of business ownership, the sole proprietorship and the partnership, the corporation has several characteristics that make it a more flexible instrument for large-scale economic activity. Chief among these are limited liability, transferability of shares (rights in the enterprise may be transferred readily from one investor to another without constituting legal reorganization), juridical personality (the corporation itself as a fictive “person” has legal standing and may thus sue and be sued, make contracts, and hold property), and indefinite duration (the life of the corporation may extend beyond the participation of any of its founders). Its owners are the shareholders, who purchase with their investment a share in the proceeds of the enterprise and who are nominally enh1d to a measure of control over its financial management. Direct shareholder control became increasingly impossible in the 20th century, however, as the largest corporations came to have tens of thousands of shareholders. The practice of proxy voting by management was legalized and adopted as a remedy, and today salaried managers exercise strong control over the corporation and its assets. Seealso multinational corporation.
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U.S. government agency established (1932) to provide loans to railroads, banks, and businesses. The RFC was an attempt by Pres. Herbert Hoover to counter the early effects of the Great Depression by rescuing institutions from default. It was widely used by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt in the New Deal and to finance defense plants in World War II. After the war, the RFC's powers and functions were gradually transferred to other agencies.
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Type of corporation that evolved in the 16th century in Europe. Under a charter granted by the state's sovereign authority, the company had certain rights and obligations which usually gave it a trading monopoly in a specific geographic area or for a specific type of trade item. In the 17th century, chartered companies were encouraged by the English, French, and Dutch governments to assist trade and encourage overseas exploration. Those companies that formed for trade with the Indies (see English East India Company; Dutch East India Company; French East India Company) and the New World (see Hudson's Bay Company) had the most wide-reaching influence. Some chartered companies were also involved in the settlement of colonists (see London Company; Plymouth Company). Eventually the development of the modern limited-liability company or corporation led to a decline in the importance of chartered companies.
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Former U.S. telegraph company and contemporary provider of electronic financial transactions. From its foundation in 1851 as a company formed to build a telegraph line from Buffalo, N.Y., to St. Louis, Mo., in 1856 the expanding business was reorganized as the Western Union Telegraph Co. By the end of 1861 Western Union had built the first transcontinental telegraph line. The company introduced singing telegrams in 1933. Western Union continued to grow, absorbing competitors such as Postal Telegraph Inc. in 1943. As telegraphy was superseded by other methods of telecommunication, Western Union diversified into teletypewriter services, money orders, and mailgrams. It launched the telecommunications satellite Westar 1 in 1974 and was operating five satellites by 1982. In 1988 the company was reorganized as Western Union Corp. to handle money transfers and related services. After declaring bankruptcy in 1993, it sold its financial services arm in 1994 to First Financial Management Corp., and in 1995 that company merged with First Data Corp. The renamed Western Union Financial Services, Inc., became a world leader in electronic (including Internet) transactions.
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English trading company chartered by James I in 1606 to colonize the eastern coast of North America. Its shareholders were residents of London. Approximately 105 colonists in three ships reached Virginia in 1607 and founded Jamestown. The company expanded its territory with new charters (1609, 1612) and authorized a two-house legislature (1619), including a House of Burgesses. The colony survived many hardships, but the company was divided by internecine disputes and was dissolved in 1624, whereupon Virginia became a royal colony. Seealso Plymouth Company.
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Major British theatrical company. It was originally attached to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, which opened in 1879 as the site of an annual festival of William Shakespeare's plays. The resident company was called the Shakespeare Memorial Company until 1961, when it was renamed and reorganized into two units, one to play at Stratford and the other to be based in London. The Stratford unit performs plays by Shakespeare and other Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, while the London unit, based at the Barbican arts complex, also performs modern plays and classics of other eras.
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Organization instrumental in colonizing much of the western part of Upper Canada (now Ontario). The company was formed in 1824 to bring settlers to the region. It was directed until 1829 by John Galt (1779–1839), founder of Guelph and father of Alexander Galt. Though the company, chartered with 2.5 million acres, was criticized as a monopoly, it continued to exist until the 1950s.
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Today PARC collaborates with sponsors and clients to discover novel business concepts and transfer scientific findings into production. Current research areas include biomedical technologies, "clean technology", user interface design, sensemaking, ubiquitous computing, large area electronics, and embedded and intelligent systems.
In retrospect, this turned out to be a good idea, for around 1974, PARC was able to hire many employees of the nearby Augmentation Research Center (founded by Douglas Engelbart) as Engelbart's funding from DARPA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force was drying up.
Much of its success in the computer field was due to the inspired leadership of PARC's Computer Science Laboratory by Bob Taylor, as associate manager (1970–77), and then manager (1977–83),
On January 4, 2002, PARC was incorporated as a subsidiary company of Xerox, called Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated, i.e., PARC. Following the spin-off, PARC remains a wholly owned subsidiary of the Xerox Corporation. As of 2004, Xerox remained the company's largest customer, but PARC had also announced a multi-year relationship with Fujitsu and an entrance into biomedical sciences in partnership with the Scripps Research Institute of La Jolla, CA.
Among PARC's distinguished researchers were two Turing Award winners: Butler W. Lampson (1992) and Alan Kay (2003). The ACM Software System Award recognized the Alto system in 1984, Smalltalk in 1987, InterLisp in 1992, and Remote Procedure Call in 1994. Lampson, Kay, Bob Taylor, and Charles P. Thacker received the National Academy of Engineering's prestigious Charles Stark Draper Prize in 2004 for their work on the Alto system.
Xerox has been heavily criticized (particularly by business historians) for failing to properly commercialize and profitably exploit PARC's innovations. A favorite example is the GUI, initially developed at PARC for the Alto and then commercialized as the Xerox Star by the Xerox Systems Development Department. Although very significant in terms of its influence on future system design, it is deemed a failure because it only sold approximately 25,000 units. A small group from PARC led by David Liddle and Charles Irby formed Metaphor Computer Systems. They extended the Star desktop concept into an animated graphic and communicating office automation model and sold the company to IBM.
The first successful commercial GUI product was the Apple Macintosh, which was heavily inspired by PARC's work; Xerox was given Apple stock in exchange for engineer visits and an understanding that Apple would create a GUI product. Much later, in the midst of the Apple v. Microsoft lawsuit in which Apple accused Microsoft of violating its copyright by appropriating the use of the "look and feel" of the Macintosh GUI, Xerox also sued Apple on the same grounds. The lawsuit was dismissed because Xerox had waited too long to file suit, and the statute of limitations had expired. However, some dispute the degree to which the Apple interface was derived from Xerox designs. Indeed, prior to Apple's visits to PARC, its Macintosh project more closely resembled the Valdocs operating system of the Epson QX-10.
There is no denying the long-term impact of PARC's systems. It took two decades for much of their technology to be equalled or surpassed. The interfaces and technology that PARC pioneered became standards for much of the computing industry, once their merits were widely known.
It is legend that Xerox management consistently failed to see the potential of many of the PARC inventions. While there is some truth to this, it is also an over-simplification. They certainly understood the value of laser printing, and of advances coming from the non-computer-focused part of PARC. Most critics don't realize that computing research was a relatively small part of PARC; there were many researchers working in areas such as materials science at PARC, including pioneers in LCD and optical disc technologies.
The work at PARC in the years since the early 1980s is often overlooked, but major work since then includes ubiquitous computing aka pervasive computing, aspect-oriented programming, and IPv6 to name but a few.