Adele Goldberg (computer scientist)

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

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 77)
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)

Early life and educationEdit

Goldberg was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 22, 1945. Her parents moved to Chicago, Illinois when she was 11, where she spent the rest of her childhood.[1] She enjoyed problem solving and mathematics from a young age and was encouraged by her teachers to pursue mathematics.[1] In 1967, she earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan.[2] Interested in the subject of computing, Goldberg worked as an intern with IBM during the summer of her junior year of college, where she learned how to program unit record machines.[3] After graduating, she attended the University of Chicago, where she received her master's degree (in 1969) and a PhD (in 1973) in information science.[2] 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.[4] She also served as a visiting researcher at Stanford.[5]


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 other researchers developed the programming language Smalltalk-80.[4] 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.[4][5] Goldberg and Kay were involved in the development of design templates, forerunners of the design patterns later used in software design.[6]

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.[7] This paper outlined the vision for the Dynabook.

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 at first refused to give him, although her superiors eventually compelled her to comply.[8] Apple eventually took many of the ideas used in the Xerox Alto and their implementations and used them 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 also cofounded Neometron, Inc. an Internet support provider in 1999. She works at Bullitics.[9] 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.[4]

Achievements and accoladesEdit

Goldberg has been awarded a number of awards and honors for her contributions to the development of computer systems. 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".[4] In 1994, she was inducted as a Fellow of the ACM.[5] She received PC Magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.[4] She was co-awarded the Dr. Dobb's Excellence in Programming Award with Dan Ingalls in 2002.[10] In 2010, she was admitted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame.[11] She was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University.[10]

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.[12] 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.[2]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • 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 "Oral-History:Adele Goldberg". ETHW. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Adele Goldberg: 2022 Fellow". Computer History Museum (CHM). April 2022. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  3. ^ "Adele Goldberg". Centre for Computing History. Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b c Adele Goldberg Biography. BookRags.
  6. ^ Chamond Liu, Smalltalk, Objects, and Design (San Jose, New York, and Shanghai: toExcel, 2000), 240
  7. ^ Kay, Alan C.; Goldberg, Adele (March 1977). "Personal Dynamic Media". Computer. 10 (3): 31–41. doi:10.1109/c-m.1977.217672. S2CID 15070347.
  8. ^ Cringely, Robert X. (June 1996). "Triumph of the Nerds: The Television Program Transcripts: Part III".
  9. ^ "The Team - Bios". Bullitics - Beta. April 26, 2012. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "2002 Dr. Dobb's Excellence in Programming Awards". Dr. Dobb's. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  11. ^ (Qamar, 2022)
  12. ^ Guide to the Adele Goldberg papers. Computer History Museum. Retrieved April 28, 2016.

External linksEdit