Digital Time

Alan Kay

Born 1940. In 1950 was a National Quiz kid on the radio.

Has been a professional jazz musician as a teenager, composer, and has built several musical instruments.

1966 Admitted to the University of Utah graduate program in Computer Science. I

L1960s Alan Kay at the University of Utah designed a computer called FLEX for his doctoral thesis. "It had a tablet as a pointing device, a high-resolution display for text and animated graphics and multiple windows"- AK. It had icons. It later became known as the Dynabook.

1969 He gets a PhD from University of Utah, and went on to join the Artifical Intelligence project at Standford.

Joined PARC at the Systems Science Laboratory.

At PARC 1971-1981

1971 Alan Kay was Principal Scientist at PARC. He had an idea for something he called a Dynabook: A "hand-held stand-alone interactive-graphic computer" that would be able to handle a couple of megabytes of text, let you draw pictures with a program called Paintbrush, allow you to animate them, be easy enough for kids to be able to design and program on it, and link directly with other Dynabooks or via a telephone to any library in the world, all for under US$500.

? Alan Kay designs overlapping windows for his Smalltalk operating system.

?At PARC they develop highlighting text with a mouse to edit it.

1973 The Xerox Alto computer built at PARC, using Alan Kay's Smalltalk operating system. It has built in networking, a black-on-white bit-mapped screen, mouse and hard disk. The materials cost US$10,000.

At Atari 1981-1984, where he was Chief Scientist.

1983 Married Bonnie MacBird, a Los Angeles screenwriter (she wrote Tron).

At Apple. He is an Apple Fellow.

Back to People menu

Back to title page


Phil Gyford