'Nobel of computing' goes to early PC designer

March 9, 2010 By JORDAN ROBERTSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- A Microsoft Corp. researcher won the $250,000 Turing Award, one of technology's most coveted prizes, on Tuesday for his work helping design and build what is widely considered the first modern personal computer.

While at Xerox Corp.'s famed Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, in the 1970s, Charles Thacker led the hardware development for the Alto, which featured innovative display and other technologies that helped inspire future generations of computers.

Thacker, 67, was also co-inventor of the Ethernet networking technology for connecting computers, which is still widely used.

Thacker said he would probably donate the money to his alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley.

"I was flabbergasted," he said in an interview Tuesday. "I frankly never expected to get the award, because it wasn't given to people like me. Most of the people who have gotten the Turing award in the past few years are software people or theoreticians. There are scant few people who have actually built some hardware."

Other recent winners include Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn, and Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the mouse.

The Turing is funded by Inc. and Corp. It is named for the mathematician Alan Turing and is administered by Association for Computing Machinery.

The association's president, Wendy Hall, said that Thacker is "one of the most distinguished systems engineers in the history of the field" and that his innovations have "profoundly affected the course of modern computing."

Explore further: Microsoft Research to Present Graphics Breakthroughs at SIGGRAPH

0 shares

Related Stories

Computing a way through the Turing barrier

February 22, 2005

Mathematicians working in an emerging field somewhere between physics, computer science and philosophy are investigating new ways of ‘computing the incomputable’ which could radically broaden our understanding of the ...

Recognizing an unheralded pioneer in Mac-happy Silicon Valley

February 27, 2009

Carl Clement doesn't want to whine and moan about it, he's just saying. He's just saying that before there was the Apple Macintosh and its recent and much-heralded 25th anniversary, there was the Xerox Alto. And he and his ...

Microsoft's cloud computing system is growing up

November 17, 2009

(AP) -- Microsoft Corp. leads its industry in part because a vast army of outside computer programmers design software that only runs on its Windows operating system. Now, the company is fighting to keep those programmers ...

Recommended for you

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.