Enlarge / Charles Thacker (left) as seen in 2008. (credit: Marcin Wichary)
Charles Thacker, one of the lead hardware designers on the Xerox Alto, the first modern personal computer, died of a brief illness on Monday. He was 74.
The Alto, which was released in 1973 but was never a commercial success, was an incredibly influential machine.

Ahead of its time, it boasted resizeable windows as part of its graphical user interface, along with a mouse, Ethernet, and numerous other technologies that didn’t become standard until years later. (Last year, Y Combinator acquired one and began restoring it.)
“Chuck” Thacker was born in Pasadena, California, in 1943. He first attended the California Institute of Technology in his hometown but later transferred to the University of California, Berkeley in 1967. While in northern California, Thacker began to abandon his academic pursuit of physics and dove deeper into computer hardware design, where he joined Project Genie, an influential computer research group.

By the end of the decade, several members, including Thacker, became the core of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) computer research group, where they developed the Alto.
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