Acm Turing Award Goes To Creator Of First Modern Personal Computer

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10th March 2010, 09:04am - Views: 586






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MEDIA RELEASE PR38666


ACM Turing Award Goes to Creator of First Modern Personal Computer


NEW YORK, Mar. 9 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --


    Thacker, Founding Member of Three Major Research Labs, Linked to Tablet 

          PC and Other Major Innovations in Computing - Past and Present


    ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery today named Charles P. Thacker the

winner of the 2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award for his pioneering design and realization of

the Alto, the first modern personal computer, and the prototype for networked

personal computers.  Thacker's design, which he built while at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto

Research Center), reflected a new vision of a self-sufficient, networked computer on

every desk, equipped with innovations that are standard in today's models.  Thacker

was also cited for his contributions to the Ethernet local area network, which

enables multiple computers to communicate and share resources, as well as the first

multiprocessor workstation, and the prototype for today's most used tablet PC, with

its capabilities for direct user interaction.  The Turing Award, widely considered

the "Nobel Prize in Computing", is named for the British mathematician Alan M.

Turing.  The award carries a $250,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel

Corporation and Google Inc.  


    "Charles Thacker's contributions have earned him a reputation as one of the most

distinguished computer systems engineers in the history of the field," said ACM

President Professor Dame Wendy Hall.  "His enduring achievements -- from his initial

innovations on the PC to his leadership in hardware development of the multiprocessor

workstation to his role in developing the tablet PC -- have profoundly affected the

course of modern computing."


    Andrew Chien, Vice President of Intel Labs and Director of Future Technologies

Research at Intel Corporation said, "Charles Thacker's design of the Alto computer

embodied the key elements of today's personal computers, and is at the root one of

the world's most innovative industries that empowers individuals around the world. 

We applaud Chuck's clarity of insight, focus on simplicity, and his incredible track-

record of designing landmark systems that have accelerated the progress of both

research and industry for decades."


    "Google is pleased to join in honoring Charles Thacker for his far-reaching role

in the birth of one of the most important technologies in the 20th century," said

Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives at Google Inc. 

"His contributions made possible the style of computing that we enjoy today, and we

are proud to be a sponsor of the ACM Turing Award to encourage continued research in

computer science, and the related technologies that depend on its continued

advancement."


    Influencing the Course of Computer History

    Thacker created and collaborated on what would become the fundamental building

blocks of the PC business.  The Alto computer, developed in 1974, incorporated bitmap

(TV-like) displays which enable modern graphical user interfaces (GUIs), including

What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors.  These components have dominated

computing during the last two decades.  Thacker was the co-inventor of the Ethernet

local area network, introduced in 1973, the "interconnection fabric" that allows

multiple digital devices such as workstations, printers, scanners, file servers, and

modems to communicate with each other.  Today's Ethernets, which are thousands of

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times faster than the original version, have become the dominant local area

networking technology.


    At Digital Equipment Corporation's System Research Center, Thacker designed the

Firefly multiprocessor workstation, an innovation that has new relevance in the

current multi-core world.  These systems are widely used across many domains for

their ability to improve productivity and create performance advantages, with

applications for embedded architecture, network systems, digital signal processing,

graphics, and special effects.


    Thacker went on to Microsoft Research in 1997 to help establish its Microsoft

Research Cambridge laboratory, where he also oversaw the design of the first

prototypes on which most of today's tablet PCs are based. Described as the most

significant recent advance in the PC hardware platform, they enable faster, more

powerful operations and they offer fundamentally new capabilities for direct

interaction with users that are fast becoming part of the mainstream of computing. 

After joining the Tablet PC team to help shepherd the product to market, he returned

to Microsoft Research in 2005, and is currently engaged in computer architecture

research at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus.


    Background

    Thacker has published extensively and holds 29 patents in computer systems and

networking.  He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Computer Science Department of the

University of California Berkeley, where he earned a B.S. in physics.  He holds an

honorary doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and is a

Fellow of ACM and the Computer History Museum.  He is also a member of the American

Academy of Arts and Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.


    For the development of Alto, Thacker (with Butler Lampson and Robert Taylor)

received the 1984 ACM Software System Award.  In 2004, (with Lampson, Taylor, and

Alan Kay) he was awarded the Charles Stark Draper prize for the development of the

first networked personal computers.  In 2007, he was the recipient of IEEE's John von

Neumann medal.


    ACM will present the 2009 A.M. Turing Award at its Awards Banquet on June 26, in

San Francisco, CA.  


    About the ACM A.M. Turing Award

    The A.M. Turing Award was named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who

articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing, and who was a key

contributor to the Allied cryptanalysis of the German Enigma cipher during World War

II.  Since its inception in 1966, the Turing Award has honored the computer

scientists and engineers who created the systems and underlying theoretical

foundations that have propelled the information technology industry.  Go to



    About ACM 

    ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery http://www.acm.org, is the world's

largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators,

researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the

field's challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession's collective voice

through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of

technical excellence.  ACM supports the professional growth of its members by

providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional

networking.  


SOURCE: Association for Computing Machinery


    CONTACT:  Virginia Gold of the Association for Computing Machinery, 

              +1-212-626-0505, 

              vgold@acm.org




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