Adele Goldberg

Adele Goldberg

Born: 1945

While completing her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at the University of Michigan, Adele began to consider computing science as a possible career path. Working at IBM over the summer between her junior and senior years, she taught herself how to program unit record machines on her breaks. She went on to earn a master’s degree and PhD in Information Science from the University of Chicago.

The same year she was awarded her degree, Adele began working at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). Working with colleagues including Alan Kay, she helped to develop SmallTalk-80. This programming language was used to create one of the first modern graphics user interfaces (GUIs) featuring windows, icons, menus, and pointers (WIMP), something most of us now take for granted. Adele refused to give Steve Jobs and his engineers a Smalltalk demonstration in 1979, suspecting that Apple would appropriate the technology. Xerox managers overruled her decision and the rest is history!

Adele became president of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) from 1984 to 1986. In 1987 she, along with Alan Kay and Dan Ingalls, won the ACM Software Systems Award. In 1990 she received PC Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2010 she was inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame.

Her legacy can be felt every time you open a new window and point and click on your PC.

Adele Goldberg was one of the women profiled in our Women in Computing Festival 2017 of entitled Where Did All the Women Go?. Click here for the Women in Computing timeline created for that event.

Books Written by Adele Goldberg :




Photograph of Adele Goldberg Click for a larger version

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