The History of Smalltalk at Tektronix

Allen Wirfs-­‐Brock
Mozilla  Corp
allen@wirfs-­‐brock.com
www.wirfs-­‐brock.com/allen/about

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Tektronix was one of the original five companies invited by the Xerox PARC LRG to review early drafts of the Smalltalk “Blue Book” and to participate in the dissemination of Smalltalk-­‐80 technology. It was arguably also the most successful both in terms of original Smalltalk technology development and application. While it is probably impossible to verify, it seems likely that by the mid 1980s Tektronix had the largest concentration of Smalltalk programmers in the world and was making the largest corporate investment in Smalltalk technology. One outcome was the Tektronix 4404 and its successor products, which were Smalltalk optimized workstations that provided the first broad industrial access to a moderately priced but high performance, high quality Smalltalk implementation. Many important contributors to the development of Smalltalk and the broad adoption of object-­‐oriented technology trace their roots to Tektronix or their use of Tektronix of a Tek 4400 series Smalltalk computer.

This talk will trace the raise and fall of Smalltalk technology at Tektronix over the decade of the 1980s. It will explore key Smalltalk technical developments that occurred at Tektronix, but it will also explore what was going on behinds the scenes that lead to these developments. A number of primary artifacts will be exhibited.