Alan Kotok

IRL Name: 
Alan Kotok

Alan Kotok was an American computer scientist known for his work at Digital Equipment Corporation (Digital, or DEC) and at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). At MIT he became a member of the Tech Model Railroad Club, and after enrolling in MIT's first freshman programming class, he helped develop some of the earliest computer software including a digital audio program and what is sometimes called the first video game Spacewar! and and the gaming joystick. Together with his teacher John McCarthy and other classmates, he was part of the team that wrote the Kotok-McCarthy program which took part in the first chess match between computers.

While at DEC, he was chief architect of the PDP-10 family of computers and a logic designer for the early DEC PDP-6 computer. Later, he became chief architect on the influential DECsystem-10 timesharing computer system and a senior consultant to Digital's Alta Vista project, an early Internet search engine.


Steven Levy, in his book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, describes Kotok and his classmates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the first true hackers.

His daughter calls him "King Nerd".

He died of a heart attack at the age of 64.