Charles Simonyi is a high-tech pioneer and philanthropist as well as a space traveler. He was the architect of Microsoft Word, Excel, and other widely used application programs. He left Microsoft to found Intentional Software, which aims to develop and market computer software for knowledge processing. His passion for science and for space has led him to travel into space twice aboard Soyuz spacecraft, becoming the fifth space tourist and the first ever tourist to fly twice.
Dr. Simonyi moved to the United States from Budapest, Hungary, in 1968 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his B.S. in engineering mathematics. Simonyi went to Stanford to receive his Ph.D. in computer science. He also has honorary doctorates from the University of Pecs in Hungary and from the Julliard School in New York. Beginning in 1972 at Xerox PARC, Simonyi created the first WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editor called Bravo. After nearly a decade at Xerox PARC, Simonyi began his work at Microsoft in 1981 as director of application development, chief architect, and distinguished engineer.
Simonyi has been a member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1997, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2008, and a Correspondent Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Simonyi is an active philanthropist and has endowed numerous educational and charitable contributions through the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. Simonyi has served on the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton since 1998 and was elected Chairman of the Board there in 2008.
Simonyi’s space flights were organized by the space tourism company, Space Adventures. After eight months of training in Moscow, Simonyi’s first flight to space started on April 7, 2007, aboard Soyuz TMA-10 for a total of fourteen days, twelve of which were spent on the International Space Station. He booked a second trip for March of 2009 aboard Soyuz TMA-14. During his stay on the International Space Station, Simonyi made radio contact with a number of schools to describe his experience. Through his public appearances and website (charlesinspace.com), Simonyi continues to inspire young people to heightened interest in science, math, and space.
The Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, established in 2003, has made a difference in the Seattle region and around the world by providing grants to outstanding organizations in the arts, sciences, and education. The goal of the foundation is to provide "access to excellence." The Simonyi Fund's first major gift was $10 million in January 2004 to the Seattle Symphony to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Gifts have also been given to the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Oxford for a Chair for the Public Understanding of Science, the Seattle Public Library, The Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Russian National Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera International Radio Broadcasts, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and many other projects. The Executive Director of the foundation is Susan Hutchison, a former Seattle KIRO-TV news anchor.