Kay is best known for his pioneering work on object-oriented programming and co-inventing the Smalltalk language. He coined the phrase, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Kay wanted to make a personal computer for children of all ages and came up with the concept of a tablet computer in 1968. The ideas led to the development of the Xerox Alto prototype, which was originally called “the interim Dynabook”. It embodied all the elements of a graphical user interface. The software component of this research was Smalltalk, which went on to have a life of its own independent of the Dynabook concept. The Dynabook itself hasn’t taken off until now but the concept defined the basics of future laptops, ebooks and tablets.
- Kay once said: “I don’t know how many of you have ever met Dijkstra, but you probably know that arrogance in computer science is measured in nano-Dijkstras.”
- He also noted: “Actually I made up the term “object-oriented”, and I can tell you I did not have C++ in mind.”
- He believes The Computer Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet where software engineering is progressing inversely to Moore’s Law which sees hardware capacity increasing each year whilst software becoming un-necessarily bloated. Which he summed up with the 1-liner: “What Andy giveth, Bill taketh away” – refering to Andy Grove the then CEO of Intel and Bill Gates of Microsoft.