Alan Kay

Digital Library

ACM Fellows

United Kingdom - 2008


For fundamental contributions to personal computing and object-oriented programming.

ACM A. M. Turing Award

USA - 2003



"For pioneering many of the ideas at the root of contemporary object-oriented programming languages, leading the team that developed Smalltalk, and for fundamental contributions to personal computing."

Alan Kay conceived Smalltalk and inspired its implementation and evolution over the last 35 years. Smalltalk was the first complete dynamic object-oriented programming language and development environment. It included a complete visual programming environment that was revolutionary at the time, but is now conventional.

Smalltalk's unification of objects and messages and its clear and simple foundation concepts have been widely influential. It represented a breakthrough in both language design and in programming metaphors, and thereby influenced the design of subsequent object-oriented languages like C++ and Java. Kay and his team of developers went on to use Smalltalk as a vehicle for teaching computing concepts at the elementary school level.

Smalltalk was part of a larger reconceptualization of computing which contributed to the emergence of personal computing. Kay envisioned Smalltalk as part of a "user-centered" approach to computing, which also led to the development of one of the basic components of the graphical user interface, overlapping screen windows. And Kay, along with others at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, integrated these ideas into the earliest personal computer, the Xerox Alto. Kay's work and his concept of the "Dynabook," or a dynamic book, inspired a generation of computer scientists and engineers, and helped lay the intellectual foundations for the personal computer revolution.

ACM Software System Award

United Kingdom - 1987



Adele Goldberg, Daniel H.H. Ingalls, Jr., Alan C. Kay

For seminal contributions to object-oriented programming languages and related programming techniques. The theories of languages and development systems known as "Smalltalk" laid the foundation for explorations in new software methodologies, graphical user interface designs, and forms of on-line assistance to the software development process.