Thacker worked in the 1970s and 1980s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where he served as project leader of the Xerox Alto personal computer system, was co-inventor of the Ethernet LAN, and contributed to many other projects, including the first laser printer.
In 1983, Thacker was a founder of the Systems Research Center (SRC) at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), and in 1997, he joined Microsoft Research to help establish Microsoft's research lab in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
After returning to the United States, Thacker designed the hardware for Microsoft's Tablet PC, based on his experience with the "interim Dynabook" at PARC, and later the Lectrice, a pen-based hand-held computer at DEC SRC.
In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
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