Alan Kotok

Kotok retired from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in the fall of 1996 after a 34-year career. He was chief architect of the powerful PDP-10 family of computers and held senior engineering positions in DEC's storage, telecommunications and software organizations.

Prior to joining DEC, Kotok, along with fellow panelists Peter Samson and Steve Russell, were members of the Signals and Power Subcommittee at the MIT Model Railroad Club. This group proved to be highly adept at understanding complex technical systems (like telephone exchanges, for example) and making them do new things. The club was even allowed access to TX-0, MIT’s custom-built, ,000,000 computer, thanks to former Railroad Club member (and now professor) Jack Dennis.

In September of 1961, DEC donated the second PDP-1 it had produced to MIT's Research Laboratory for Electronics (RLE). Kotok became student staff programmer shortly thereafter. The new PDP-1 was a dream to hackers. Six of them, including Kotok, Samson, Bob Saunders and Bob Wagner, spent a total of two hundred and fifty man-hours one weekend re-writing the TX-0 macro assembler for the PDP-1.

Kotok wrote a number of number of important programs for early DEC and IBM computers, including the well-known Kotok-McCarthy chess program at MIT (which became his B.S. thesis). He was also a logic designer for the DEC PDP-6 computer and played a key role in the development of the DECsystem-10 timesharing computer system.

Kotok brings to the panel the PDP-1 user’s perspective as well as how this unique machine reflected DEC’s philosophy of interactive computing and how this would shape future products.

Kotok received BSEE (1962) and MSEE (1965) degrees from MIT and an MBA from Clark University (1978). Today, he is Associate Chair of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), responsible for managing contractual relations with W3C members.


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