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Chuck Thacker has died (acm.org)
558 points by mpweiher on June 13, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments



I have fond memories of Chuck at MSR-SVC. I was a lowly post-doc who sat close to him for a time. He was very generous with his time and I can only recall his door being open. I was struck by the breadth of his expertise (e.g. he knew about HCI matters even though I considered him a low-level systems guy). I've heard him being called the engineer's engineer and that is an apt title. He inspired me and will be missed. RIP.


he was so humble for someone so intelligent. even though it was 15yrs ago at this point, I still am struck by how happy he was to come to redmond for 3 days to sit through design discussions for work that became the basis of roles / minimal windows. was a great role model that you didn't need to show you were the smartest person in the room. RIP


If you dont know who Chuck Thacker is (and why his contribution is important) - read Dealers of Lightning (https://www.amazon.com/Dealers-Lightning-Xerox-PARC-Computer...)


Thanks, I just picked it up. I read The Idea Factory last year and found it fascinating.


Sadly I didn't know who he was: "...Known for his pioneering design of the Xerox Alto, the first modern PC. He also is credited as a co-inventor of the Ethernet family of computer networking technologies."


Me neither, but that's industry foundation level wizardry there. Gunna go do me some Chuck Thacker research now and try not to cry.


> After returning to the U.S., Thacker designed the hardware for Microsoft's Tablet PC

Tablet PCs were way ahead of their time and suffered as a result imho. It was hard to find one that wasn't under-powered, and I suspect that it was a way to make them affordable, but hot-damn those things were cool.

Frankly I'd argue we've still to perfect that idea. We've got those "transformer" laptops now-a-days, but finding something with a decent digitizer has still been elusive; or at least it is to me.

Regardless, thanks for the fish Mr. Thacker, hope you enjoy your seat at the pantheon of computer gods.


Windows Journal, the handwriting note-taking software that shipped with Windows Tablet Edition back in 2005 is still unsurpassed by any software you can get on Android/Chrome today. Which is unfortunate, because Samsung does make decent note taking hardware.


Also MS was a lot more shy in terms of hardware. They didn't push it as much as today's surface in terms of spec and marketing.


> Frankly I'd argue we've still to perfect that idea. We've got those "transformer" laptops now-a-days, but finding something with a decent digitizer has still been elusive

Have you tried the surface pro (4+)? In my mind the main issue with the sp4 is battery - but that may be a bit better in the latest device (due to change in cpu generation).

Then there's also wacom's tablet pcs: https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2016/10/10/13225680/...


>Have you tried the surface pro (4+)? In my mind the main issue with the sp4 is battery

Another issue from 3 weeks ago on HN:

>One import thing with all Surface laptops that most people don't know:

>>Support is limited to the country you purchased the device in.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14400873


I hate to say it but I really hope Apple will perfect the tablet/laptop hybrid idea. I would love it if I could detach the screen of my macbook and use it as an iPad...or something along those lines.


I talked with Chuck when he visited China in 2010 just months after he was awarded Turing. He was a really nice guy. It is funny to talk with him.

He joked that he was an unfortunate guy because he always invented something decades of years ahead of mainstream era.

And the secret of so many original inventions? Read the original papers, the very old ones in various fields and learn how people initially thought, and why they failed.



Awesome...Nice link! May his soul Rest in Peace!


If anyone is looking for advice, follow this diligently.

> "Choose your colleagues carefully to the extent that they help you and you will be more successful and the extent that you can help them and they will be more successful. …Value simplicity and elegance. …Pick your problems carefully."


Very cool, from 1986 - Chuck Thacker on "Personal Distributed Computing—The Alto and Ethernet Hardware"

"Presentation given by Chuck Thacker (introduced by Ed McCreight) at the ACM Conference on the History of Personal Workstations, held at Rickey’s Hyatt House in Palo Alto, California, on January 9 and 10, 1986. The conference was sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and hosted by the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9n2J24Jg2Y


One by one the people who built the technologies that rule our world will go - their everlasting monument is the change they wrought.


The Archive has a copy of the article if folks are having trouble accessing the site: https://web.archive.org/web/20170613200242/https://cacm.acm.....


The dreaded black bar on HN .. :( RIP


I had no idea that was what that meant! When I occasionally see it I just assumed someone screwed up the CSS and then they just fix it later.

Today I learned. Might be a nice thing to make something a little more prominent.


I think the black bar should be a little bit larger, and a click on it should lead to the reason for the black bar.


If you inspect it you will see that it is actually a <tr> by itself.

The first few time I saw it I thought it was a bug too, until I inspect it and saw a correlation.


I would have given it a class name of "black_bar_because_someone_important_has_died", for the people whose first reflex when they don't understand something is "Inspect Element."


Or use a title attribute, which is what they're there for


Yeah, didn't know until now what the black bar meant


A firm reminder that we have a certain amount of time to get our work done.


While still finding time for leisure and time with loved ones.


Always remember this is WHAT we work for, don't neglect your own life.


Work to live, not live to work.


Work for whatever you want to live for, live for whatever you want to live for. If someone chooses to live to work, bully for them.

I know you weren't being a jerk, so on some level my response is unfair, but I think that a life of service is underrated.


I'm really surprised this was down voted.




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