Charles Thacker

2007 Fellow

For leading development of the Xerox PARC Alto, and for innovations in networked personal computer systems and laser printing technologies

"Complexity is the enemy—Exterminate features."

— Charles Thacker

Chuck Thacker was born in Pasadena, California, in 1943 and holds a BS in physics from UC Berkeley (1967) and an honorary doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETEH-Zurich).

Soon after graduation, Thacker joined Berkeley Computer Corporation, where he led the design of their new computer's processor and memory subsystem. After BCC failed commercially, Thacker joined the Computer Science Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where he led the hardware development of many innovative systems, including the design and engineering of the groundbreaking Alto computer hardware and much of its microcode.

At PARC, Thacker contributed to the Ethernet local area networking system and the world's first laser printer.

In 1983, Thacker was a founder of DEC's Systems Research Center (SRC) in Palo Alto, California, working on multiprocessor systems.

In 1997, he joined Microsoft to help establish the company's Cambridge, UK, Research Laboratory. After returning to the U.S. in 1999, he joined the newly formed Tablet PC group and managed the design of the first prototypes of this new device. He most recently worked on alternative and reconfigurable computer architectures. Thacker received the ACM Turing Award in 2009 and passed away on June 12, 2017.


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