Alan Kay

Computer Scientist Alan Kay

Profession: Computer Scientist

Nationality:
United States of America
American

Biography: Alan Kay is an American computer scientist known for his work as a pioneer of object-oriented programming and the use of a graphical user interface. These concepts have served as the basis of modern consumer computing ever since.

Kay began as a computer programmer when this was considered secretarial work appropriate only for women. He went on to study and work with some of the biggest names in early computing including David C. Evans, Ivan Sutherland, Seymour Papert.

While Kay worked with the Defense Advanced Projects Agency, also known as DARPA, he is best known for his work while at the Xerox PARC research and development center. There he led development of the programming language Smalltalk, which was designed partly for educational use; its form was based on the work of constructionist thinkers including Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky.

Kay is further known as one of the fathers of object-oriented programming, though he would later express his regret at this term: "I'm sorry that I long ago coined the term 'objects' for this topic because it gets many people to focus on the lesser idea. The big idea is messaging."

During his time at PARC, Kay also came up with the Dynabook concept which would serve as an early prototype for what would become laptops, tablet computers, and e-books. As well as this, he pioneered the overlapping window interface which is today the standard for laptop and desktop computing.

Born: May 17, 1940
Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Age: 82 years old

Generation: Silent Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Dragon
Star Sign: Taurus


Biographies and Sources