Special Event: Inventor and Programmer, Alan Kay

November 17, 2010
12:30 pmto2:30 pm

On Wednesday, November 17 at 12:30pm, Alan Kay will come to ITP to talk to all interested students who will fit into Room 50 …a brown bag lunch. He is one of the most remarkable people in the history, the present and the future of interactive technology . It’s a brown bag lunch, so bring something to eat. He will talk for a couple of hours and entertain questions–on whatever is on his mind. He is a long time fan of ITP and Red Burns and this is a remarkable opportunity to meet and talk to one of the all time greats in our field…Open to current ITP students.

Alan Kay is one of the earliest pioneers of object-oriented programming, personal computing,
and graphical user interfaces. His contributions have been recognized with the Charles Stark
Draper Prize of the National Academy of Engineering1 “for the vision, conception, and
development of the first practical networked personal computers,” the Alan. M. Turing
Award from the Association of Computing Machinery “for pioneering many of the ideas at
the root of contemporary object-oriented programming languages, leading the team that
developed Smalltalk, and for fundamental contributions to personal computing,” and the
Kyoto Prize from the Inamori Foundation “for creation of the concept of modern personal
computing and contribution to its realization.” This work was done in the rich context of
ARPA and Xerox PARC with many talented colleagues.
While at the ARPA project at the University of Utah in the late 60s, he invented dynamic
object-oriented programming2, was part of the original team that developed continuous tone
3D graphics, was the co-designer of the FLEX Machine3, an early desktop computer with
graphical user interface and object-oriented operating system, participated in the design of the
ARPAnet, and inspired by children4, conceived the Dynabook, a laptop personal computer for
children of all ages.
At the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the Early 70’s he invented Smalltalk, the first
completely object-oriented programming, authoring and operating system (which included the
now ubiquitous overlapping window interface), instigated the bit-map screen, screen painting
and animation, participated in desk-top publishing, other desk-top media, and the development
of the Alto1, the first modern networked personal computer. This was part of the larger
process at PARC that created an entire genre of personal computing including: the GUI,
Ethernet, Laserprinting, modern word processing, client-servers and peer-peer networking.
He has a BA in Mathematics and Biology with minor concentrations in English and
Anthropology from the University of Colorado, 1966. MS and PhD degrees in Computer
Science (1968 and 1969, both with distinction) from the University of Utah, and Honorary
Doctorates from the Kungl Tekniska Hoegskolan in Stockholm, Sweden, Columbia College in
Chicago, Georgia Tech, the University of Pisa in Italy and the University of Waterloo in
Ontario, Canada.
He has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National
Academy of Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the
Royal Society of Arts, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Computer History
Other honors include: J-D Warnier Prix d’Informatique, ACM Systems Software Award5,
NEC Computers & Communication Foundation Prize, Funai Foundation Prize, Lewis
Branscomb Technology Award, the ACM SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contributions to
Computer Science Education, and the CRN Hall of Fame.
He has been a Xerox Fellow, Chief Scientist of Atari, Apple Fellow, Disney Fellow, and HP
Senior Fellow. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at UCLA. In 2001
he founded Viewpoints Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to children,
learning and advanced systems research. http://www.vpri.org
At Viewpoints Research Institute he and his colleagues continue to explore advanced systems
and programming design by aiming for a “Moore’s Law” advance in software creation of
many orders of magnitude. Kay and Viewpoints are also deeply involved in the One Laptop
Per Child initiative that seeks to create a Dynabook-like “$100 laptop” for every child in the
world (especially in the 3rd world).
Outside of computing, Kay entered show business in the 50s as a professional jazz guitarist.
Much of his subsequent work combined music and theatrical production. Today he is an avid
amateur classical pipe organist and has just taken up jazz guitar again after more than 40

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
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