Alan Cooper is widely recognized for creating the visual development environment in Visual BASIC and for inventing the field of interaction design and its foundational tools.7 He is renowned for his breakthrough work in software design, which helped to make technology more improved for humans. Cooper, known as the “Father of Visual Basic,” also invented personas as useful interaction design tools to produce cutting-edge products that appeal to consumers’ senses. Furthermore, Cooper went on to develop the goal-directed design process as well.1,2
Alan Cooper was born in San Francisco in 1952 and was raised in Marin County, California. He is known to have always chosen to go down the road less taken. He was a rebellious kid who dropped out of high school in his final year after the school administration rejected his suggestions for alternative education. Cooper’s life changed in the summer of 1972 when he immersed himself in the Bay Area counterculture, took up odd jobs, and embarked on a solo trip throughout Europe. As Cooper notes, counterculture “meant you didn’t do what everyone else did. You found your own path, and you mapped your own course and life and did things differently.”1,2
He finally found his way to the College of Marin to pursue his love of design. After taking an exploratory programming course, it became apparent that his future lay in software architecture. After earning his associate’s degree and landing a job as a COBOL programmer, he came up with the concept for a new business venture after seeing an advertisement for one of the first personal computers.2
Structured Systems Group (SSG), which Cooper founded in 1976, served as a role model for numerous other software companies in the early years of the personal computer revolution. After leaving SSG, Cooper produced, wrote, and sold three important software packages to recognized publishers in the 1980s. One of these was “Ruby” Visual BASIC’s front-end code, which is one of the world’s first examples of visual programming. Due to Visual BASIC’s critical and commercial success, Cooper has been dubbed the “Father of Visual BASIC.” Since then, Visual BASIC has had an impact on integrated development languages.3,4
Cooper was drawn to the challenge of creating software products that were simple to use and interpret in 1990. Cooper Interaction Design, now known simply as “Cooper,” was founded by him and his wife Susan to help with what Cooper refers to as “interaction design.”5 Cooper helped popularize the idea that digital technology shouldn’t scare its human users within a few years of establishing the fundamental design methodologies that are used today throughout the industry. Design personas created by him are used by practically everyone in the user experience industry today.3,4,5
Over the following few years, he pioneered many of the methods and tools that are today commonplace in the user experience sector, including pair design, personas and scenarios, and possibility thinking. Cooper also wrote two books on interaction design in the 1990s—”The Inmates are Running the Asylum” and “About Face“—both of which fall into the recommended reading category for practitioners. These two best-selling books are still in print and are frequently cited.
Alan Cooper and his wife have moved to a former dairy ranch close to Petaluma, California, from where he still supervises Cooper.1,2
For more than 40 years, Alan Cooper has been a pioneer in the fields of software and user experience, and today he is inspiring a new generation of web designers and business owners. Cooper draws comparisons between ethical behavior in the farming sector and ethical behavior in the software industry, all while advocating for more humane technologies and emerging as an outspoken supporter of sustainable and regenerative agriculture.6
Read the articles below to find out more about other exceptional programmers and their many accomplishments.
You can also visit BYJU’S FutureSchool Blog to read more inspiring articles on coding and math.
- 2017 CHM Fellow Alan Cooper: Father of Visual Basic – CHM. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://computerhistory.org/blog/2017-chm-fellow-alan-cooper-father-of-visual-basic/
- The untold story of Alan Cooper, the father of Visual Basic. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://yourstory.com/2017/06/techie-tuesdays-alan-cooper
- Alan Cooper – From Visual Basic to an UX Guru – Tony’s blog. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://stony.me/web-analytics-persona-alan-cooper/
- The Birth of Visual Basic. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://www.forestmoon.com/birthofvb/birthofvb.html
- Microsoft Designer Alan Cooper Explains How He Created Visual Basic, the Programming Language That Made Windows Possible | OneZero. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://onezero.medium.com/my-one-phrase-resum%C3%A9-98776ef8a6fa
- Alan Cooper :: UXmatters Authors. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2022, from https://www.uxmatters.com/authors/archives/2014/11/alan_cooper.php
- Alan Cooper – CHM. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2022, from https://computerhistory.org/profile/alan-cooper/