ACM – the Association for Computing Machinery – has created a new major award to honor 2009 A.M. Turing Laureate Charles P. “Chuck” Thacker. The award honors Thacker’s pioneering contributions to computing, considered by the community to have propelled the world in the early 1970s from a visionary idea to the reality of modern personal computing, providing people with an early glimpse of how computing would deeply influence us all. The award also celebrates Thacker’s long-term inspirational mentorship of generations of computer scientists.

The award features a prize of $100,000, with financial support provided by Microsoft. Recipients of the Chuck Thacker Breakthrough in Computing Award are invited to deliver an address, the ACM Breakthrough Lecture, to highlight the program at any major ACM conference of the recipient’s choice.

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This named merit award is intended to be biennial, though its frequency is anticipated to be somewhat fluid; the breakthrough nature of the work the award is intended to recognize does not happen very often and such contributions can take time to be recognized. If no candidate meets the criteria in a given year the award will be postponed.

The award is open to candidates who have made a surprising or disruptive leapfrog in computing ideas or technologies. Anyone may nominate and endorse a candidate and nominations will be solicited from the computing community in general.

“I’m thrilled to see Chuck’s creativity celebrated via an honor that calls out breakthrough thinking. What a great way to celebrate Chuck and his visionary leadership,” said Eric Horvitz, technical fellow and director of Microsoft Research Labs.

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