papers & manuals
The Learning Research Group at Xerox PARC designed a language to support
Alan Kay's programming paradigm. This led to the Smalltalk-72 software.
After experiments were performed on Smalltalk-72, a sequence of languages
ending in Smalltalk-80 were developed .
Significant Language Features
Object-Oriented - Smalltalk is a language in which reusable objects
Graphical Programming Environment - First look at cut/copy/paste in
programming language for most people.
Versatile - Has many applications and uses.
Graphic primitives and drawing programs - Supports quickly and easily
Areas of Application
The demand for Smalltalk programmers is growing in areas where the
telecommunications industry is strong.
Business Information System
Chosen because of Technical merit and flexibility
Well suited for large projects
Embedded in an oscilloscope
Manages the telephone system of an entire country
Batch programs for large mainframes
1979 first issue
Smalltalk Creator Wins 'Nobel Prize' of Computing
By Jim Wagner
April 20, 2004
One man's work to bring a biological model to the computer world has,
34 years later, led to a 2003 Turing Award by the Association for
Computing Machinery (ACM), officials announced Monday.
Dr. Alan Kay will receive the "Nobel Prize of Computing"
in a ceremony in June, as well as $100,000, for his pioneering work
on Smalltalk, the first complete dynamic object-oriented programming
(OOP) language. Today, the language is credited as the model for C++
and Java; Kay is considered the first to coin the phrase "object-oriented."
Kay said he was happy to receive the award, especially since most
of his personal heroes have already made the roster. He also said
he's surprised at the lasting power of languages such as Smalltalk
in the business world.
"Of course, it's an incredible thrill, I'm quite surprised to
get it," he told internetnews.com. "It's hard to describe
the last 20 years or so in a few sentences, but it's interesting that
in spite of the enormous change downward in the kinds of machines
that can run on it, dynamic languages like Smalltalk and (List Processor
), both of these languages still hung in there."
The award is named for Dr. Alan Turing, the British mathematician
who is most famously known for the "Turing Machine," an
abstract logic exercise published by Turing in the mid-1930s to describe
a mechanical device taking information in a systematic way. It turns
out the paper anticipated many common computer functions like input,
output, coded programs and compilers/interpreters.
Smalltalk was Kay's idea of using "cells" of individual
objects communicating with one another to solve problems. In 1972,
he took his work to Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where
he began work using Smalltalk as an educational tool for children.
He concluded children learned best when information was presented
in graphics and sound, rather than just dry text.
He and his team came up with the "Dynabook," the model for
a computer much smaller than the mainframes in use at the time and
the basis for the Xerox Alto; it included a GUI and three-button mouse.
The rest, as they say, is history. Kay pushed for more funding from
the Xerox leadership for a "personal computer" and was summarily
rejected. In 1979, a little-known entrepreneur named Steve Jobs was
touring the PARC facility and saw the "windowing GUI" Kay's
team had been working on and immediately used it as the basis of the
mouse with Apple Macintosh, which in turn led to the genesis of the
Microsoft Windows operating system.
This is the second time Kay's work at PARC has been acknowledged by
the ACM; in 1987, he and his research team received the ACM Software
System Award. Kay was also one of this year's National Academy of
Engineering Charles Stark Draper Prize winners, considered the "Nobel
Prize of Engineering."
Allen Davis, executive director of the Smalltalk Industry Council,
congratulated Kay on the Turing Award and told internetnews.com in
an email interview that the language developed decades ago continues
to influence the software industry today.
"The principles found in the Smalltalk language and development
environments continue to influence the software industry," he
wrote. "Many capabilities found in Smalltalk exceed those found
in more recently-developed object-oriented programming languages such
as Java. From hobbyists to Fortune 500 companies, Smalltalk continues
to be used today for traditional and web-based applications."
Smalltalk is considered by many to be an easier language to code because
its syntax resembles English and its use of nouns and verbs. According
to the authors at Smalltalk.org, it also takes much less code to get
the point across in programming -- to the tune of one-third to one-half
the code needed in a more popular OOP.
Take, for example, the differences in writing code in C++/Java over
Smalltalk. In Java or C++, getting a program to execute "Hello"
10 times would look something like this:
for (int x = 0; x < 10; x++)
In Squeak, an implementation of Smalltalk, it would look like so:
[Transcript show: 'Hello '.].
Kay is the second computing pioneer in as many weeks to be recognized
for efforts conducted in the 1970s.
On Thursday, Sir Tim Berners-Lee took home the Millennium Award and
$1 million Euros by a Finnish organization for his work to bring the
World Wide Web (WWW) to the masses.