Butler Lampson

Digital Library

ACM Fellows

USA - 1994

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For contributions to the development of distributed, personal computing environments and the technology for their implementation: workstations, networks, operating systems, programming systems, displays, security, and document publishing.

ACM A. M. Turing Award

USA - 1992

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citation

For contributions to the development of distributed, personal computing environments and the technology for their implementation: workstations, networks, operating systems, programming systems, displays, security and document publishing.

Butler Lampson has provided technical vision that has strongly shaped the distributed, personal computing environment as we know it today. During the 1970s and early 1980s when he was the technical leader of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Butler and his colleagues developed general principles that help define the personal computer/local network/server paradigm. They designed and built a variety of hardware and software systems according to this new paradigm. Taken together, these systems demonstrated solutions to the associated engineering programs, and proved that the new paradigm could be applied effectively and efficiently.

Butler was the overall system architect of the Alto, the progenitor of today's personal computer with its bit-mapped display and mouse. Later, he led the design of the Dorado, an early high performance single-user workstation. His single-user Alto operating system relied upon distributed utilities cooperating across the Ethernet and PUP, the first internet architecture. Today, the Ethernet and interconnected networks are ubiquitous. The Juniper file system offered reliable, distributed file storage. The Grapevine name server showed how to deal with naming entities in a continuously changing network environment and how to authenticate users across a network in which global trust could not be assumed. Remote procedure calling was engineered to be an efficient technique, capable of supporting remote servers.

Butler designed Bravo, the first mouse-based "what you see is what you get" editor to run on the Alto. He led the design and implementation of both the hardware and software for the EARS laser printer which performed at a rate and with quality comparable with that which followed commercially only many years later. Interpress, Xerox's device-independent document description language, is the direct precursor of PostScript, an almost universal standard today. The Mesa system implementation language and the Cedar programming environment explored notation and techniques for the engineering of distributed, concurrent software.

Butler Lampson and the individuals he drew to work with him pioneered the personal workstation/local network/server paradigm that has eclipsed the terminal/mainframe paradigm. This work enabled the personal computer revolution. Butler's vision, his leadership and his many technical achievements --including contributions both before and after those cited above -- have profoundly influenced and advanced computing.

ACM Software System Award

USA - 1984

Xerox Alto System

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Butler W. Lampson, Robert W. Taylor, Charles P. Thacker

For conceiving and guiding the development of the Xerox Alto System, which clearly demonstrates that a distributed personal computer system could provide a desirable and practical alternative to time-sharing.