Squeak in reuters post this evening

John M McIntosh johnmci at smalltalkconsulting.com
Fri Jun 15 21:12:01 UTC 2001

The orginal article was pulled because the date was wrong, see


also in the la times 

LA Times
by RICHARD VERRIER, Times Staff Writer

      A team of top computer scientists headed by renowned computer 
designer Alan Kay left Walt Disney Co. under the company's buyout 
      Kay and a team of six programmers, who worked in Disney's 
vaunted Imagineering unit in Glendale, developed an education 
software system called Squeak, which allows children to create their 
own computer programs through games and graphics.
      The scientists accepted voluntary severance packages as part of 
the company's move to cut 4,000 jobs companywide.
      Six members of the team left in June; Kay will remain until 
September to complete his contract.
      "It's a difficult decision," Kay said. "I think there was a 
realization that with the current upheaval the company is going 
through, it probably wasn't the best matchup for what we were trying 
to do."
      Kay said he and his colleagues left voluntarily and that he 
plans to continue a relationship with Disney, in a capacity yet to be 
disclosed. The team will form a nonprofit group to continue its 
research and promote Squeak's use on the Internet, said a source 
familiar with the group's plans.
      A legend in the industry, Kay played a significant role in the 
development of a prototype of the personal computer at the Palo Alto 
Research Center of Xerox Corp. during the 1970s.
      Disney recruited Kay, a former research fellow at Apple 
Computer, to work on Squeak in 1996 when the company was moving 
heavily into the Internet and interactive games.
      The company has since retrenched from its ambitious Internet 
plans, shrinking its Go portal and laying off 300 workers from its 
Internet group earlier this year.
      Disney said the departure of Kay's team was unrelated to the 
contraction of its Internet business. "He [Kay] simply wanted to do 
his research in a different kind of environment," said Clare Thomas, 
spokeswoman for Walt Disney Imagineering. "We wish him all the best."
      Disney had been using the technology in interactive play areas 
in its theme parks, such as a submarine game at the Innoventions 
attraction at Epcot in Florida. Disney also has been researching 
possible applications of the technology for hand-held computing 
devices used in the theme parks.
      The team's departure won't affect Disney's ability to use the 
technology because Squeak is a so-called open source system.

John M. McIntosh <johnmci at smalltalkconsulting.com> 1-800-477-2659
Corporate Smalltalk Consulting Ltd.  http://www.smalltalkconsulting.com

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