Butler Lampson

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Butler Lampson
Professional Developers Conference 2009 Technical Leaders Panel 6.jpg
Born (1943-12-23) December 23, 1943 (age 70)
Washington, D.C.
Fields Computer science
Institutions UC-Berkeley
Xerox PARC
DEC
Microsoft
MIT
Alma mater Harvard University
University of California, Berkeley
Known for SDS 940, Xerox Alto
Notable awards A. M. Turing Award (1992)

Butler W. Lampson (born December 23, 1943) is a computer scientist.

After graduating from the Lawrenceville School (where in 2009 he was awarded the Aldo Leopold Award, also known as the Lawrenceville Medal, Lawrenceville's highest award to alumni), Lampson received his Bachelor's degree in Physics from Harvard University in 1964, and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1967.

During the 1960s, Lampson and others were part of Project GENIE at UC Berkeley. In 1965, several Project GENIE members, specifically Lampson and Peter Deutsch, developed the Berkeley Timesharing System for Scientific Data Systems' SDS 940 computer.

Lampson was one of the founding members of Xerox PARC in 1970, where he worked in the Computer Science Laboratory (CSL). His now-famous vision of a personal computer was captured in the 1972 memo entitled "Why Alto?".[1] In 1973, the Xerox Alto, with its three-button mouse and full-page-sized monitor was born.[2] It is now considered to be the first actual personal computer (at least in terms of what has become the 'canonical' GUI mode of operation).

All the subsequent computers built at Xerox PARC followed a general blueprint called "Wildflower", written by Lampson, and this included the D-Series Machines, the "Dolphin" (used in the Xerox 1100 LISP machine), "Dandelion" (used in the Xerox 8010 model of the Xerox Star and Xerox 1108 LISP machine), "Dandetiger" (used in the Xerox 1109 LISP machine), "Dorado" (used in the Xerox 1132 LISP machine), "Daybreak" Xerox 6085, and "Dragon" (a 4-processor 6085 with one of the first snoopy caches, though never released to production).

At PARC, Lampson helped work on many other revolutionary technologies, such as laser printer design; two-phase commit protocols; Bravo, the first WYSIWYG text formatting program; Ethernet, the first high-speed local area network (LAN); and designed several influential programming languages such as Euclid.

By the early 1980s, Lampson left Xerox PARC for Digital Equipment Corporation's Systems Research Center (SRC); he now works for Microsoft Research. Lampson is also an adjunct professor at MIT.

In 1992, he won the distinguished ACM Turing Award for his contributions to personal computing and computer science and in 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the ACM. In 2004, he won the Charles Stark Draper Prize along with Alan C. Kay, Robert W. Taylor, and Charles P. Thacker for their work on Alto. In 2006 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum.

Lampson is often quoted as saying, "Any problem in computer science can be solved with another level of indirection," but in his Turing Award Lecture[3] in 1993, Lampson himself attributes this saying to David Wheeler.

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