Computing pioneer Alan Kay, who was instrumental in the development of modern programming languages and graphics-based computer interfaces, has joined Hewlett-Packard Co. as a senior fellow at HP Labs.

Kay, 62, will research and develop new software platforms, the company said. Underlying code will be shared in the same fashion as the open-source Linux operating system.

In recent years, Kay has been working on Squeak, a set of programming tools based on images rather than words. Children as young as 5 have created programs using the system.

Kay said he will continue working on the Squeak project both at HP Labs and at the Glendale, Calif.-based Viewpoints Research Institute, which he co-founded.

“The work with children has always been the trigger for the technological inventions I’ve done over the years,” he said. “Most of those are now in use by adults. I think that’s kind of the way it goes. This is something HP understands. It’s my basic agenda.”

In the late 1960s, Kay played a role in the development of ARPAnet, a predecessor to the internet. In 1972, he joined the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

Besides creating the forerunner of today’s notebook computers, he invented Smalltalk, widely considered to be the father of modern object-oriented programming languages. He also played a role in developing bitmap displays, which are now used in all computers that show graphical windows and icons.

After leaving Xerox PARC, Kay worked for Atari, Apple Computer, and—most recently—Disney Imagineering. He left Disney last year.

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