Feeds

Microsoft boffin scoops Turing Award

Hardware guru wins computing's 'Nobel prize'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

A Microsoft researcher has received the Turing Award in recognition for his pioneering work in personal computing hardware and networking technology development.

Chuck Thacker, 67, received the computing industry's equivalent of a Nobel prize on Tuesday for his work on the Alto personal computer and Ethernet networking at Xerox's famed Palo Alto Research Center, as well as his development of a prototype Tablet PC at Microsoft.

Thacker, who works in Microsoft's Silicon Valley research lab, expressed surprise at receiving the award, which for years has gone to computer scientists or software developers rather than hardware gurus like himself.

A technical fellow at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, Thacker helped to develop a prototype for a Tablet PC while at Microsoft's Cambridge research labs in the late 90s before going on to focus on developing a reprogrammable computer hardware platform, codenamed BEE3.

The Turing Award, bestowed annually by the Association for Computing Machinery and named after wartime cryptographer and computing pioneer Alan Turing, comes with a prize of $250,000. It is awarded to individuals who make contributions of "lasting and major technical importance" to computing. ACM's citation for Thacker salutes achievements that span multiple decades of research.

Charles P (Chuck) Thacker is a pioneering architect, inventor, designer, and builder of many of today's key personal computing and network technologies. During the 70s and early 80s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Chuck was a central systems designer and main pragmatic engineering force behind many of PARC's technologies, including: Alto, the first modern personal computer with a bit-map screen to run graphical user interfaces with WYSIWYG fidelity and interaction. All of today's personal computers with bit-map screens and graphical user interfaces descend directly from the Alto.

In addition, he invented the snooping cache coherence protocols used in nearly all small-scale shared-memory multiprocessors, pioneered the design of high-performance, high-availability packet- or cell-switched local area networks in the AN1 and AN2, and designed the Firefly, the first multiprocessor workstation. Almost 30 years after the Alto Chuck designed and built the prototype for the most used tablet PCs today.

Microsoft has a tribute to Thacker's work on its website here. Thacker is the fourth Microsoft researcher to receive the award and the first hardware guru to receive the award since Britain’s Maurice Wilkes in 1967.

Thacker's pioneering work on the Alto and on computer networking was previously recognised with the award of the IEEE’s John Von Neumann medal, another prestigious computing award, in 2007. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Chumps stump up $1 MEELLLION for watch that doesn't exist
By the way, I have a really nice bridge you might like...
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.