Kay is one of the fathers of the idea of object-oriented programming, which he named, along with some colleagues at PARC and predecessors at the Norwegian Computing Center. Heconceived the Dynabook concept which defined the conceptual basics for laptop and tablet computers and E-books, and is the architect of the modern overlapping windowing graphical user interface (GUI.Because the Dynabook was conceived as an educational platform, Kay is considered to be one of the first researchers into mobile learning, and indeed, many features of the Dynabook concept havebeen adopted in the design of the One Laptop Per Child educational platform, with which Kay is actively involved.
After 10 years at Xerox PARC, Kay became Atari's chief scientist for three years.Starting in 1994, Kay was an Apple Fellow at Apple Computer until the closing of the ATG (Advanced Technology Group), one of the company's R&D divisions.[ He then joined Walt DisneyImagineering as a Disney Fellow and remained there until Disney ended its Disney Fellow program. After Disney, in 2001 he founded Viewpoints Research Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated tochildren, learning, and advanced software development.
Later, Kay worked with a team at Applied Minds, then became a Senior Fellow at Hewlett-Packard until HP disbanded the Advanced SoftwareResearch Team on July 20, 2005. He is currently head of Viewpoints Institute.
In December 1995, when he was still at Apple, Kay collaborated with many others to start the opensource Squeak dynamic media software, and he continues to work on it. As part of this effort, in November 1996, his team began research on what became the Etoys system. More recently he started, along with David A.Smith, David P. Reed, Andreas Raab, Rick McGeer, Julian Lombardi, and Mark McCahill, the Croquet Project, which is an open source networked 2D and 3D environment for collaborative work.