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"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
— Alan Kay

The Full Alan Kay Quote
"Don't worry about what anybody else is going to do… The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Really smart people with reasonable funding can do just about anything that doesn't violate too many of Newton's Laws!"
— Alan Kay in 1971,
inventor of Smalltalk which was the inspiration and technical basis for the MacIntosh and subsequent windowing based systems (NextStep, Microsoft Windows 3.1/95/98/NT, X-Windows, Motif, etc...).

Alan on Alan
"The origin of the quote came from an early meeting in 1971 of PARC, Palo Alto Research Center, folks and the Xerox planners. In a fit of passion I uttered the quote!".
— Alan Kay, in an email on Sept 17, 1998 to Peter W. Lount

Smalltalk Invention Overview
"Smalltalk was developed in the Learning Research Group at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center in the early 70s. The major ideas in Smalltalk are generally credited to Alan Kay with many roots in Simula, LISP and SketchPad. Dan Engalls wrote the first overlapping windows, opaque pop-up menus and BitBlt. Guess where Apple's OS and Microsoft Windows "found" their roots? Right, Smalltalk! Adele Goldberg and Dave Robson wrote the reference manuals for Smalltalk and were key development team members."
— Randy Best, STIC Director
(For the full article follow the above link and select "Details about Smalltak, the Language."

Steve Jobs on Smalltalk
Steve Jobs had co-founded Apple Computer in 1976. The first popular personal computer, the Apple 2, was a hit - and made Steve Jobs one of the biggest names of a brand-new industry. At the height of Apple's early success in December 1979, Jobs, then all of 24, had a privileged invitation to visit Xerox Parc.

This is what Steve had to say about his visit to Xerox Parc.

"And they showed me really three things. But I was so blinded by the first one I didn't even really see the other two. One of the things they showed me was object orienting programming they showed me that but I didn't even see that. The other one they showed me was a networked computer system...they had over a hundred Alto computers all networked using email etc., etc., I didn't even see that. I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me which was the graphical user interface. I thought it was the best thing I'd ever seen in my life. Now remember it was very flawed, what we saw was incomplete, they'd done a bunch of things wrong. But we didn't know that at the time but still though they had the germ of the idea was there and they'd done it very well and within you know ten minutes it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day."

It was a turning-point. Jobs decided that this was the way forward for Apple.
— Steve Jobs, from "Triumph of The Nerds, Part 3, PBS"

Steve Jobs Tours Xerox
In 1979, the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center developed the first prototype for a GUI. A young man named Steve Jobs, looking for new ideas to work into future iterations of the Apple computer, traded US $1 million in stock options to Xerox for a detailed tour of their facilities and current projects. One of the things Xerox showed Jobs was the Alto, which sported a GUI and a three-button mouse. When Jobs saw this prototype, he had an epiphany and set out to bring the GUI to the public.
— Adam Powell, Wired

Alan Kay Biographical Info
"By the time I got to school, I had already read a couple hundred books. I knew in the first grade that they were lying to me because I had already been exposed to other points of view. School is basically about one point of view -- the one the teacher has or the textbooks have. They don't like the idea of having different points of view, so it was a battle. Of course I would pipe up with my five-year-old voice." - from Alan Kay by Scott Gasch

Alan Kay Biographical Info Request
If you have any information, bits of history, interesting stories about Alan please send them to us at Alan Kay biographical information. This includes information on the web that we can link to.

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