School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

Alan Kay
  • Alan Kay
  • Born: May 17, 1940
  • Field: Computer science; programming languages; graphical-user interfaces
  • Focus: Primary inventor of modern graphical user interface techniques. Co-inventor of Smalltalk programming langauge, an early object-oriented language.
  • Country: United States
  • Era: 1970 to 1989

Alan Kay is the main inventor of the overlapping windows, icons, point, click, and drag user interface. He is one of the inventors of the Smalltalk programming language, which led to the idea of object-oriented programming. Kay also is the developer of open source Squeak dynamic media software. These results were used to develop a simple computer system which heavily utlized animation and graphics. He then developed a model of a laptop computer while at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) and was involved in the design of ARPANet.

Kay is one of the founders of Xerox PARC. While at PARC, he started using Smalltalk in an educational context. During the research, children's reactions would be analyzed after being exposed to computers. Kay is very interested in children and education. In addition to working at Xerox PARC, Kay was a chief scientist for Atari, a Fellow for Apple Computer, and a Disney Fellow at Walt Disney Imagineering. Currently he is a Senior Fellow at Hewlett-Packard and president of the Viewpoints Research Institute. Kay has received the ACM Software Systems Award, the ACM Outstanding Educator Award, the Turing award from the Association for Computing Machinery, and the the Draper Prize by the National Academy of Engineering. Kay is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Arts, and the Computer Museum History Center.

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