Adele Goldberg (computer scientist)

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Dr. Adele Goldberg
Adele Goldberg at PyCon 2007.jpg
Dr. Adele Goldberg at Python Conference (PyCon) 2007
Born (1945-07-22) July 22, 1945 (age 76)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan, University of Chicago
Known forSmalltalk System
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
InstitutionsXerox PARC, Association for Computing Machinery, Stanford University
ThesisComputer-Assisted Instruction: The Application of Theorem-proving to Adaptive Response Analysis (1973)

Adele Goldberg (born July 22, 1945) is an American computer scientist. She participated in developing the programming language Smalltalk-80 and various concepts related to object-oriented programming while a researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), in the 1970s.[1]

Early life[edit]

She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan, and a master's degree in information science from the University of Chicago. She completed her PhD in information science at the University of Chicago in 1973. She completed her dissertation, "Computer-Assisted Instruction: The Application of Theorem-proving to Adaptive Response Analysis," while working as a research associate at Stanford University.[1] She served as a visiting researcher at Stanford University.[2]

Goldberg began working at PARC in 1973 as a laboratory and research assistant, and eventually became manager of the System Concepts Laboratory where she, Alan Kay, and others developed Smalltalk-80. This language developed the object-oriented approach of Simula 67 and introduced a programming environment of overlapping windows on graphic display screens. Smalltalk's innovative format was simple to use and customizable. Objects could be transferred among applications with minimal effort.[1][2] Goldberg and Kay were involved in the development of design templates, forerunners of the design patterns later used in software design.[3]

Along with Kay, she wrote the influential article "Personal Dynamic Media", which predicted a world in which ordinary individuals would use notebook computers to exchange, modify, and redistribute personal media.[4] This paper outlined the vision for the Dynabook.

She was president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) from 1984 to 1986, and, with Alan Kay and Dan Ingalls, received the ACM Software Systems Award in 1987. She was included in Forbes's "Twenty Who Matter".[1] She received PC Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.[1] In 1994, she was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.[2]

Many of the concepts developed by Goldberg and her team at PARC became the basis for graphical user interfaces. According to Goldberg, Steve Jobs demanded a demonstration of the Smalltalk System, which she refused to give him. Her superiors eventually compelled her to comply.[5] Apple eventually used many of the ideas in the Alto and their implementations as the basis for their Apple Macintosh desktop environment.

In 1988, Goldberg left PARC to cofound ParcPlace Systems, a company that created development tools for Smalltalk-based applications. There, she served as chairwoman and CEO until its 1995 merger with Digitalk.

She cofounded Neometron, Inc. an Internet support provider in 1999. She works at Bullitics.[6] She continues to pursue her interest in education, formulating computer science courses at community colleges in the United States and abroad. She is a board member and adviser at Cognito Learning Media, a provider of multimedia software for science education.[1]

The Computer History Museum (CHM) houses a collection of Goldberg's working documents, reports, publications and videotapes related to her work on the development of Smalltalk.[7] In 2022, with Dan Ingalls, she was made a Fellow of the CHM for promoting and codeveloping the Smalltalk programming environment and contributions advancing use of computers in education.[8]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Goldberg, Adele; Robson, David (May 1, 1983). Harrison, Michael A. (ed.). Smalltalk-80: The Language and Its Implementation. Boston: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0201113716. (out of print; the blue book as known by Smalltalk people)
  • Goldberg, Adele (December 1, 1983). Smalltalk-80: The Interactive Programming Environment. Boston: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0201113723. (the orange book)
  • Goldberg, Adele; Robson, David (June 1, 1989). Smalltalk-80: The Language. Boston: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0201136883. (the purple book, a revision of the blue book)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2002). International encyclopedia of women scientists. New York, New York: Facts on File. pp. 136–137. ISBN 978-0816043811.
  2. ^ a b c Adele Goldberg Biography. BookRags.
  3. ^ Chamond Liu, Smalltalk, Objects, and Design (San Jose, New York, and Shanghai: toExcel, 2000), 240
  4. ^ Kay, Alan C.; Goldberg, Adele (March 1977). "Personal Dynamic Media". Computer. 10 (3): 31–41. doi:10.1109/c-m.1977.217672. S2CID 15070347.
  5. ^ Cringely, Robert X. (June 1996). "Triumph of the Nerds: The Television Program Transcripts: Part III".
  6. ^ "The Team - Bios". Bullitics - Beta. April 26, 2012. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "Guide to the Adele Goldberg papers". Computer History Museum. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
  8. ^ "Adele Goldberg: 2022 Fellow". Computer History Museum (CHM). April 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022.

External links[edit]