Friday, July 09, 2004 - Fast Forward - A PC Pioneer Decries the State of Computing - Fast Forward - A PC Pioneer Decries the State of Computing "I have a soft spot for people who say things like "The computer revolution hasn't started yet...we're not even close to what we should have." I'm prone to agree. But when the speaker is Alan Kay, who invented a huge proportion of what we do have today, I enthusiastically grant him credence.
This is the guy who, working for the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the late '60s and at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the early '70s, invented or contributed heavily to the invention of: the personal computer, windows-type graphical user interfaces, personal computer networks, and object-oriented computer programming. All of these seminal creations are baked into today's computing environment, which Kay casually disparages. They say that great inventors are often easily dissatisfied. An hour or so with Kay would suggest there's truth in that.
But I was struck most by how much he thinks we haven't yet done. "We're running on fumes technologically today," he says. "The sad truth is that 20 years or so of commercialization have almost completely missed the point of what personal computing is about."
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