New ACM Breakthrough In Computing Award
Written by Sue Gee   
Tuesday, 07 August 2018

The Association for Computing Machinery has created a new major award for a surprising or disruptive leapfrog in computing ideas or technologies. Named to honor “Chuck” Thacker it carries a prize of $100,000 and is intended to be biennial.


Chuck Thacker

Charles P Thacker, who died in June 2017 aged 74, was known to his friends as Chuck. After stints as a founding member of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center and Digital Equipment Corporation’s Systems Research Center, Thacker was recruited in 1997 to help launch Microsoft’s research lab in Cambridge, UK.

During his long career Thacker designed the Alto, the first modern personal computer with a mouse and graphical user interface, in the early 1970s at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center. He was  a key player in the development of Ethernet, an early system for connecting computers into a local area network and contributed to the first laser printer. He was also responsible for the hardware of Microsoft’s Tablet PC,  based on his experience with the "interim Dynabook" at PARC,

The computer science community regularly acknowledged Thacker’s contributions to the field. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1994 and won the Charles Stark Draper Prize in 2004, In 2007 he was awarded the IEEE John von Neumann medal and became inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum. He was the 2009 recipient of the ACM’s A.M. Turing Award  and the 2017 Eckert-Mauchly Award.

In this video, made by Microsoft Research when Thacker won the ACM Turing Award in 2009, his colleagues reflect on the various breakthroughs he made and how as a mentor he challenged young people to come up with great ideas and to drive the field forward.

The new award, which hasn't yet been added to the ACM Awards page, carries a prize of $100,000 with financial support from Microsoft. It is open to:

candidates who have made a surprising or disruptive leapfrog in computing ideas or technologies 

According to Microsoft:

The award honors Thacker’s pioneering contributions to computing, considered by the community to have propelled the world in the early 1970s from a visionary idea to the reality of modern personal computing, providing people with an early glimpse of how computing would deeply influence us all. The award also celebrates Thacker’s long-term inspirational mentorship of generations of computer scientists.

Its recipients will be invited to deliver an address, the ACM Breakthrough Lecture, to highlight the program at any major ACM conference of the recipient’s choice.

While the award is intended to be biennial, its frequency is anticipated to be somewhat fluid:

the breakthrough nature of the work the award is intended to recognize does not happen very often and such contributions can take time to be recognized.

If no candidate meets the criteria in a given year the award will be postponed. Anyone may nominate and endorse a candidate and nominations will be solicited from the computing community in general.

The last word goes to Eric Horvitz, technical fellow and director of Microsoft Research Labs:

“I’m thrilled to see Chuck’s creativity celebrated via an honor that calls out breakthrough thinking. What a great way to celebrate Chuck and his visionary leadership,” 



More Information

ACM announces creation of Chuck Thacker Breakthrough in Computing Award

ACM Awards

Related Articles

ACM Celebrates 50 Years of Turing Award

ACM 2015 Technical Awards 

Computer History Museum Announces 2015 Fellows

Python Creator Is Computer History Museum 2018 Fellow


To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, sign up for our weekly newsletter, subscribe to the RSS feed and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.



Wasmer's py2wasm Compiles Python To WebAssembly

py2wasm is a compiler that turns your Python code into WebAssembly, "running it at 3x faster speeds".

Huawei Intends To Challenge iOS and Android

Huawei has just changed its mind and decided to push its HarmonyOS to the rest of the world. A challenger to iOS and Android would be nice, but it is possible?

More News

raspberry pi books



or email your comment to:

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 August 2018 )