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Book: Points of View - a Tribute to Alan Kay

by Abel Avram on Jun 04, 2010 |

Edited by Ian Piumarta, a Senior Scientist for Viewpoints Research Institute, and Kimberly Rose, co-founder of the Viewpoints Research Institute, the book “Points of View - a Tribute to Alan Kay” (PDF) is a homage paid to Dr. Alan Kay for his great contribution for the advance of computer science, celebrating his 70th birthday on May 17th.

Dr. Alan Kay, best known for the phrase “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”, is one of the computer science visionaries who has had a significant influence on the evolution of software and hardware sciences over the last 40 years. Inspired by Sketchpad and Simula, Dr. Kay invented dynamic OOP while working on ARPA during late 60’s. Along with Ed Cheadle, Dr. Kay designed the FLEX Machine, an early desktop computer with a GUI and object-oriented OS. He also designed Dynabook, an early laptop computer for children.

Dr. Kay invented Smalltalk while working at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the Early 70’s, where he was involved in the invention of Alto, the first networked personal computer.

Dr. Kay was the recipient of several awards including the Turing Award from the Association of Computing Machinery “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,” the Charles Stark Draper Prize of the National Academy of Engineering “for the vision, conception, and development of the first practical networked personal computers,” and the Kyoto Prize from the Inamori Foundation “for creation of the concept of modern personal computing and contribution to its realization.”

Currently, Dr. Alan Kay is presiding Viewpoints Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to children, learning and advanced systems research.

The book “Points of View - a Tribute to Alan Kay” is a collection of previously unpublished essays on Alan Kay written by friends and former or actual colleagues who have known him personally, trying to depict interesting aspects of Dr. Kay’s personality, character, vision, and life. Kimberly Rose wrote in her dedication:

Alan, with this book, Ian and I present to you, on behalf of several of your dear friends and colleagues, a tribute wherein we hope you will also learn something more about what you have given to us, taught us, and been to us— all of us who participated in this project. We believe this book also contains valuable lessons and historic information that will be of interest and value outside our circle and hope we can bring some of the remarkable influence you have had and lessons you have taught to a much larger group of people.

Following is the list the essays and their respective authors:

Bob Sproull       Alan Kay: visionary designer
Ivan Sutherland       Old Salt Lake stories that you may not have heard
Adele Goldberg       Alan Kay and the Search for the Holy Grail
Bert Sutherland       Manager as Pupil
Bob Stein       Do it
Leonard Kleinrock       About an Ageless Alan Kay
John Sculley       Genius is Seeing the Obvious Twenty Years Ahead of Everyone Else
Bobby Blatt       The Vivarium—a place to learn about learning, and to think about thinking
Chunka Mui       Notes on a twenty-five-year collaboration
Mel Bergstein       Context, Inspiration and Aspiration: Alan Kay’s Influence on Business
Larry Smarr       The Emergence of a Planetary-Scale Collaboratory for Data-Intensive Research
Andy van Dam       Reflections on what Alan Kay has meant to me, on the occasion of his 70th birthday
Raj Reddy       Alan Kay and the Creation of the Centre Mondial Informatique et Ressources Humaines in Paris
Nicholas Negroponte       The Book in Dynabook?
David P. Reed       Get the verbs right
Chuck Thacker       A Tiny Computer
Douglas B. Lenat       The K Factor
Butler Lampson       Declarative Programming: The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Vishal Sikka       Some timeless lessons on software design
Vint Cerf       Thoughts on Alan’s 70th Birthday
Mitchel Resnick       Life as a Learning Lab
Bran Ferren       AK—A Graphic Exposé
Betty Edwards       A Tribute to Alan Kay
Bob Lucky       Portraits of Alan Kay
Greg Harrold       Greg and Alan conspire to create a wonderful new pipe organ
Quincy Jones       A three-sixty human being
Gordon Bell       Dear Alan, Re: What about your digital afterlife ?
Danny Hillis       The Power of Conviction

The first edition of the book was depleted in hours, another being prepared for printing by the end of July. Those interested in getting a copy should contact the editors at info@vpri.org. A PDF version is available for download.

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Thank you, InfoQ by Lou Marco

Thanks for making this book available through InfoQ.

And thanks to all the authors who contributed.

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