By Abby Abazorius
Professor Hal Abelson has dedicated his career to making information technology more accessible to all and empowering people — kids, in particular — through computer science. But his storied career in computer science began with Abelson coming to MIT in 1969 to pursue his interest in mathematics.
“The thing I like to remind students of is that they don’t have to know what they are going to do with the rest of their life,” Abelson says. “I get a lot of emails from students in high school asking what they should be studying, and I say, ‘Gee you should be trying to do something that doesn’t even exist yet!’”
Today Abelson’s work is focused on democratizing access to computer science and empowering children by showing them that they can have an impact on their community through the power of technology. Throughout his career, Abelson has played an important role in numerous educational technology initiatives at MIT, including MIT OpenCourseWare and DSpace, and as the co-chair of the MIT Council on Educational Technology. He is also a founding director of Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, and the Free Software Foundation.
Today, his App Inventor platform, which enables adults and kids to create their own mobile phone applications, has over 1 million active users.