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Charles P. Thacker

Charles P. Thacker

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Charles P. Thacker (born 1943) is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 pioneer computer designer.

Biography


Thacker was born in Pasadena, California
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

 on February 26, 1943.
He received his B.S. in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 from the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

 in 1967.
He then joined the university's "Project Genie
Project Genie
Project Genie was a computer research project started in 1964 at the University of California, Berkeley.It produced an early time-sharing system including the Berkeley Timesharing System, which was then commercialized as the SDS 940.-History:...

" in 1968, which developed the pioneering Berkeley Timesharing System
Berkeley Timesharing System
The Berkeley Timesharing System was a pioneering time-sharing operating system implemented between 1964 and 1967 at the University of California, Berkeley...

 on the SDS 940
SDS 940
The SDS 940 was Scientific Data Systems' first machine designed to support time sharing directly, and was based on the SDS 930's 24-bit CPU built primarily of integrated circuits. It was announced in February 1966 and shipped in April, becoming a major part of Tymshare's expansion during the 1960s...

.
Butler Lampson
Butler Lampson
Butler W. Lampson is a renowned computer scientist.After graduating from the Lawrenceville School , Lampson received his Bachelor's degree in Physics from Harvard University in 1964, and his Ph.D...

, Thacker, and others then left to form the Berkeley Computer Corporation, where Thacker designed the processor and memory system. While BCC was not commercially successful, this group became the core technologists in the Computer Systems Laboratory at Xerox
Xerox
Xerox Corporation is an American multinational document management corporation that produced and sells a range of color and black-and-white printers, multifunction systems, photo copiers, digital production printing presses, and related consulting services and supplies...

 Palo Alto Research Center (PARC
PARC
PARC or Parc may refer to:* PARC , the Palo Alto Research Center * PARC Management, a theme park and entertainment venue operator...

).

Thacker worked in the 1970s and 1980s at the PARC, where he served as project leader of the Xerox Alto
Xerox Alto
The Xerox Alto was one of the first computers designed for individual use , making it arguably what is now called a personal computer. It was developed at Xerox PARC in 1973...

 personal computer system,
was co-inventor of the Ethernet
Ethernet
Ethernet is a family of computer networking technologies for local area networks commercially introduced in 1980. Standardized in IEEE 802.3, Ethernet has largely replaced competing wired LAN technologies....

 LAN
Län
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

, and contributed to many other projects, including the first laser printer
Laser printer
A laser printer is a common type of computer printer that rapidly produces high quality text and graphics on plain paper. As with digital photocopiers and multifunction printers , laser printers employ a xerographic printing process, but differ from analog photocopiers in that the image is produced...

.

In 1983, Thacker was a founder of the Systems Research Center
DEC Systems Research Center
The Systems Research Center was a research laboratory created by Digital Equipment Corporation in 1984, in Palo Alto, California....

 (SRC) of Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation was a major American company in the computer industry and a leading vendor of computer systems, software and peripherals from the 1960s to the 1990s...

 (DEC), and in 1997, he joined Microsoft Research
Microsoft Research
Microsoft Research is the research division of Microsoft created in 1991 for developing various computer science ideas and integrating them into Microsoft products. It currently employs Turing Award winners C.A.R. Hoare, Butler Lampson, and Charles P...

 to help establish Microsoft Research Cambridge in Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

After returning to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Thacker designed the hardware
Computer hardware
Personal computer hardware are component devices which are typically installed into or peripheral to a computer case to create a personal computer upon which system software is installed including a firmware interface such as a BIOS and an operating system which supports application software that...

 for Microsoft's Tablet PC
Microsoft Tablet PC
A Microsoft Tablet PC is a term coined by Microsoft for tablet computers conforming to a set of specifications announced in 2001 by Microsoft, for a pen-enabled personal computer, conforming to hardware specifications devised by Microsoft and running a licensed copy of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition...

, based on his experience with the "interim Dynabook
Dynabook
The Dynabook concept, created by Alan Kay in 1968, described what is now known as a laptop computer or a tablet or slate computer with nearly eternal battery life and software aimed at giving children access to digital media...

" at PARC, and later the Lectrice, a pen-based hand-held computer at DEC SRC.

Awards


In 1994, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery
Association for Computing Machinery
The Association for Computing Machinery is a learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947 as the world's first scientific and educational computing society. Its membership is more than 92,000 as of 2009...

.

In 1996, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in Computer Science at U.C. Berkeley.

In 2004, he won the Charles Stark Draper Prize
Charles Stark Draper Prize
The National Academy of Engineering annually awards the Charles Stark Draper Prize, which is given for the advancement of engineering and the education of the public about engineering. It is one of three prizes that constitute the "Nobel Prizes of Engineering" - the others being the Academy's Russ...

 together with Alan C. Kay
Alan Kay
Alan Curtis Kay is an American computer scientist, known for his early pioneering work on object-oriented programming and windowing graphical user interface design, and for coining the phrase, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."He is the president of the Viewpoints Research...

, Butler W. Lampson, and Robert W. Taylor
Robert Taylor (computer scientist)
Robert William Taylor , known as Bob Taylor, is an Internet pioneer, who led teams that made major contributions to the personal computer, and other related technologies....

.

In 2007, he won the IEEE John von Neumann Medal
IEEE John von Neumann Medal
The IEEE John von Neumann Medal was established by the IEEE Board of Directors in 1990 and may be presented annually "for outstanding achievements in computer-related science and technology." The achievements may be theoretical, technological, or entrepreneurial, and need not have been made...

 for "a central role in the creation of the personal computer and the development of networked computer systems."

In 2007, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum
Computer History Museum
The Computer History Museum is a museum established in 1996 in Mountain View, California, USA. The Museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the stories and artifacts of the information age, and exploring the computing revolution and its impact on our lives.-History:The museum's origins...

 for "leading development of the Xerox PARC Alto, and for innovations in networked personal computer systems and laser printing technologies."

In 2010, he was named by the Association for Computing Machinery
Association for Computing Machinery
The Association for Computing Machinery is a learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947 as the world's first scientific and educational computing society. Its membership is more than 92,000 as of 2009...

 as the recipient of the 2009 Turing Award
Turing Award
The Turing Award, in full The ACM A.M. Turing Award, is an annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the...

 in recognition of his pioneering design and realization of the Alto (computer), the first modern personal computer, and in addition for his contributions to the Ethernet
Ethernet
Ethernet is a family of computer networking technologies for local area networks commercially introduced in 1980. Standardized in IEEE 802.3, Ethernet has largely replaced competing wired LAN technologies....

 and the tablet computer
Tablet computer
A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen...

.

Thacker holds an honorary doctorate from the Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 Federal Institute of Technology
ETH Zurich
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich or ETH Zürich is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the City of Zurich, Switzerland....

 and is a Technical Fellow at Microsoft.

External links