What is the Future of Mobile Devices?

Intel Fellow Bruce Horn is leading the charge to make mobile devices smarter and more useful than they are today.

Intel Fellow Bruce Horn

Intel Fellow Bruce Horn is leading the effort "to figure out how to make systems that are smart and useful to people, much more than they are now."

As Intel has moved into the smartphone and tablet market an influx of new talent has joined the company. Many of those people led storied careers before coming to Intel. One example is Bruce Horn, who joined in 2012 as an Intel Fellow in the Mobile and Communications Group after previous stops at Xerox PARC, Apple, Microsoft and a company he founded.

At Intel, Horn is driving a vision for and architecture of intelligent personal devices and systems with the group. Horn says that he’s leading the effort “to figure out how to make systems that are smart and useful to people, much more than they are now.” It’s ambitious, exhilarating work, according to Horn, who says he hasn’t “been this excited since PARC,” where he kicked off his technology career at a startlingly young age.

An early start in tech isn’t the only intriguing detail about Horn. Here’s more on his colorful career and the journey from early work in object-oriented programming to helping Intel define the future of mobile devices:

Xerox PARC Instead of High School Homeroom

At an age when many young teens struggle with just making it through their freshman year of high school, Horn was taking the first steps toward a career in technology. In 1973, at the age of 14, Horn had his own office, a Xerox Alto computer and had already contributed to numerous projects as a member of the Research Learning Group at the renowned Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

While at PARC, Horn helped build several versions of the virtual machine for the Smalltalk programming language, which became an inspiration for the Macintosh user interface. In addition, Horn worked on the NoteTaker, one of the first “portable” computers — it weighed roughly 40 pounds with battery, and ran two Intel 8086 processors.

Lured to Apple by Steve Jobs

After graduating in 1981 from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences, Horn accepted a job offer from VLSI Technology (VTI), to work with a former colleague from PARC. But Steve Jobs, it turned out, had other plans. Jobs talked Horn into coming into Apple’s offices for a look at the work going on there.

What followed were two days of intense exposure to all of the possibilities at Apple. Horn turned down the other company’s offer and accepted the invite from Jobs. Horn spent the next three years on the Macintosh development team. During that time he worked on the MacOS and developed the Macintosh Finder, the first drag-and-drop desktop file management system. Horn left Apple in 1984 to earn advanced degrees at Carnegie-Mellon and later consulted for a variety of tech firms in Silicon Valley.

Inventor and Entrepreneur

In the 28 years between Horn’s work at Apple and his arrival at Intel, Horn co-founded Marketocracy.com. The start-up created the first Internet investment trading system to use mass collaboration in ranking financial analysts to create mutual funds based on the best performers.

Horn’s interest in natural language processing eventually led him to Powerset. There, Horn worked on building a special kind of search engine, one that used natural language queries rather than keywords to answer users’ questions. Microsoft’s acquisition of Powerset led to Horn’s work on Bing, integrating the natural language processing techniques he first helped create at Powerset.

Invoking Alan Kay’s Advice on Innovation

One of Horn’s favorite quotes is from his Xerox PARC mentor (and computer science pioneer) Alan Kay who once said, “Where Newton said he saw further by standing on the shoulders of giants, computer scientists all too often stand on each other’s toes.”

Looking at the relative infancy of interactive computing, Horn observes, “We don’t learn from the past … and if you don’t know, then you can’t build on it.”

Not Just Piloting Computing Innovations

Horn is an avid flyer who owns his own plane. It’s a 1976 Cessna Cardinal RG in which he logs about 15,000 flight miles a year, and has even flown cross-country several times.

That tech research gig at Xerox PARC he began in junior high wasn’t the only early start for Horn: His first experience taking the controls of an airplane? He was 10.

What is the Future of Mobile Devices?

Intel Fellow Bruce Horn is leading the charge to make mobile devices smarter and more useful than they are today.

Intel Fellow Bruce Horn

Intel Fellow Bruce Horn is leading the effort "to figure out how to make systems that are smart and useful to people, much more than they are now."

As Intel has moved into the smartphone and tablet market an influx of new talent has joined the company. Many of those people led storied careers before coming to Intel. One example is Bruce Horn, who joined in 2012 as an Intel Fellow in the Mobile and Communications Group after previous stops at Xerox PARC, Apple, Microsoft and a company he founded.

At Intel, Horn is driving a vision for and architecture of intelligent personal devices and systems with the group. Horn says that he’s leading the effort “to figure out how to make systems that are smart and useful to people, much more than they are now.” It’s ambitious, exhilarating work, according to Horn, who says he hasn’t “been this excited since PARC,” where he kicked off his technology career at a startlingly young age.

An early start in tech isn’t the only intriguing detail about Horn. Here’s more on his colorful career and the journey from early work in object-oriented programming to helping Intel define the future of mobile devices:

Xerox PARC Instead of High School Homeroom

At an age when many young teens struggle with just making it through their freshman year of high school, Horn was taking the first steps toward a career in technology. In 1973, at the age of 14, Horn had his own office, a Xerox Alto computer and had already contributed to numerous projects as a member of the Research Learning Group at the renowned Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

While at PARC, Horn helped build several versions of the virtual machine for the Smalltalk programming language, which became an inspiration for the Macintosh user interface. In addition, Horn worked on the NoteTaker, one of the first “portable” computers — it weighed roughly 40 pounds with battery, and ran two Intel 8086 processors.

Lured to Apple by Steve Jobs

After graduating in 1981 from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences, Horn accepted a job offer from VLSI Technology (VTI), to work with a former colleague from PARC. But Steve Jobs, it turned out, had other plans. Jobs talked Horn into coming into Apple’s offices for a look at the work going on there.

What followed were two days of intense exposure to all of the possibilities at Apple. Horn turned down the other company’s offer and accepted the invite from Jobs. Horn spent the next three years on the Macintosh development team. During that time he worked on the MacOS and developed the Macintosh Finder, the first drag-and-drop desktop file management system. Horn left Apple in 1984 to earn advanced degrees at Carnegie-Mellon and later consulted for a variety of tech firms in Silicon Valley.

Inventor and Entrepreneur

In the 28 years between Horn’s work at Apple and his arrival at Intel, Horn co-founded Marketocracy.com. The start-up created the first Internet investment trading system to use mass collaboration in ranking financial analysts to create mutual funds based on the best performers.

Horn’s interest in natural language processing eventually led him to Powerset. There, Horn worked on building a special kind of search engine, one that used natural language queries rather than keywords to answer users’ questions. Microsoft’s acquisition of Powerset led to Horn’s work on Bing, integrating the natural language processing techniques he first helped create at Powerset.

Invoking Alan Kay’s Advice on Innovation

One of Horn’s favorite quotes is from his Xerox PARC mentor (and computer science pioneer) Alan Kay who once said, “Where Newton said he saw further by standing on the shoulders of giants, computer scientists all too often stand on each other’s toes.”

Looking at the relative infancy of interactive computing, Horn observes, “We don’t learn from the past … and if you don’t know, then you can’t build on it.”

Not Just Piloting Computing Innovations

Horn is an avid flyer who owns his own plane. It’s a 1976 Cessna Cardinal RG in which he logs about 15,000 flight miles a year, and has even flown cross-country several times.

That tech research gig at Xerox PARC he began in junior high wasn’t the only early start for Horn: His first experience taking the controls of an airplane? He was 10.