Chuck Thacker was fortunate to enter computing at a time when the fundamental electronic technologies had matured to the point that many of the predictions of the field’s pioneers could finally be achieved. Educated in Physics at the University of California at Berkeley, he joined the university’s project Genie in 1968. This project had constructed one of the most successful early timesharing computers, the SDS 940, and was planning a follow-on system when he joined the project.
The project became the Berkeley Computer Corporation, which developed the BCC 500 timesharing system. Here, he led the group designing the system’s central memory and microprocessor. Although not a commercial success, BCC supplied the core group of technologists for the newly-formed Computer Science Laboratory at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which he joined in 1970.
In 1983, Chuck was a founder of the Digital Equipment Corporation’s Systems Research Center. Here he led the hardware development of the Firefly, the first multiprocessor workstation, and the Alpha Demonstration Unit, the first Alpha-architecture multiprocessor.
Chuck has also worked extensively in computer networking. He led the development of AN1, a local area network that used active switches and 100 Megabit-per-second point-to-point links to provide high aggregate performance. The follow-on project, AN2, also developed by his team, became the DEC Gigaswitch/ATM product.