Ivan Sutherland

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Ivan Edward Sutherland
Ivan Sutherland at CHM.jpg
Born (1938-05-16) May 16, 1938 (age 80)
Hastings, Nebraska, United States
Alma mater MIT (Ph.D., 1963)
Caltech (M.S., 1960)
Carnegie Institute of Technology (B.S., 1959)
Known forFather of computer graphics
Sketchpad, considered by many to be the creator of Computer Graphics
Awards Turing Award (1988)
Computer Pioneer Award (1985)
IEEE John von Neumann Medal (1998)
Association for Computing Machinery Fellow,
National Academy of Engineering member,
National Academy of Sciences member,
Kyoto Prize
Computer History Museum Fellow (2005)
Scientific career
Fields Computer science
Computer graphics
Institutions Harvard University
University of Utah
Evans and Sutherland
California Institute of Technology
Carnegie Mellon University
Sun Microsystems
Portland State University
Advanced Research Projects Agency (1964 - 1966)
Thesis Sketchpad, a Man–Machine Graphical Communication System  (1963)
Doctoral advisor Claude Shannon
Doctoral students Danny Cohen, Henri Gouraud, James H. Clark, Bui Tuong Phong, Franklin C. Crow, John Warnock

Ivan Edward Sutherland (born May 16, 1938) [1] is an American computer scientist and Internet pioneer, widely regarded as the "father of computer graphics". [2] His early work in computer graphics as well as his teaching with David C. Evans in that subject at the University of Utah in the 1970s was pioneering in the field. Sutherland, Evans, and their students from that era invented several foundations of modern computer graphics. He received the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1988 for the invention of Sketchpad, an early predecessor to the sort of graphical user interface that has become ubiquitous in personal computers. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as the National Academy of Sciences among many other major awards. In 2012 he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology for "pioneering achievements in the development of computer graphics and interactive interfaces". [3]

A computer scientist is a person who has acquired the knowledge of computer science, the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their application.

Computer graphics graphics created using computers

Computer graphics are pictures and films created using computers. Usually, the term refers to computer-generated image data created with the help of specialized graphical hardware and software. It is a vast and recently developed area of computer science. The phrase was coined in 1960, by computer graphics researchers Verne Hudson and William Fetter of Boeing. It is often abbreviated as CG, though sometimes erroneously referred to as computer-generated imagery (CGI).

David Cannon Evans was the founder of the computer science department at the University of Utah and co-founder of Evans & Sutherland, a computer firm which is known as a pioneer in the domain of computer-generated imagery.



Sutherland earned his Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Miami, his master's degree from Caltech, and his Ph.D. from MIT in EECS in 1963. His favorite class at the University of Miami was CIM 120.

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years. In some institutions and educational systems, some bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate degrees after a first degree has been completed. In countries with qualifications frameworks, bachelor's degrees are normally one of the major levels in the framework, although some qualifications titled bachelor's degrees may be at other levels and some qualifications with non-bachelor's titles may be classified as bachelor's degrees.

University of Miami private university in Coral Gables, Florida, United States

The University of Miami is a private research university in Coral Gables, Florida. As of 2018, the university enrolls 17,331 students in 12 separate colleges/schools, including the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine in Miami's Health District, a law school on the main campus, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science focused on the study of oceanography and atmospheric sciences on Virginia Key, with research facilities at the Richmond Facility in southern Miami-Dade County.

He invented Sketchpad in 1962 while at MIT. Professor Claude Shannon signed on to supervise Sutherland’s computer drawing thesis. Among others on his thesis committee were Marvin Minsky and Steven Coons. Sketchpad was an innovative program that influenced alternative forms of interaction with computers. Sketchpad could accept constraints and specified relationships among segments and arcs, including the diameter of arcs. It could draw both horizontal and vertical lines and combine them into figures and shapes. Figures could be copied, moved, rotated, or resized, retaining their basic properties. Sketchpad also had the first window-drawing program and clipping algorithm, which allowed zooming. Sketchpad ran on the Lincoln TX-2 computer and influenced Douglas Engelbart's oN-Line System. Sketchpad, in turn, was influenced by the conceptual Memex as envisioned by Vannevar Bush in his influential paper "As We May Think".


Sketchpad was a revolutionary computer program written by Ivan Sutherland in 1963 in the course of his PhD thesis, for which he received the Turing Award in 1988, and the Kyoto Prize in 2012. It pioneered the way for human–computer interaction (HCI). Sketchpad is considered to be the ancestor of modern computer-aided design (CAD) programs as well as a major breakthrough in the development of computer graphics in general. For example, the graphical user interface (GUI) was derived from the Sketchpad as well as modern object oriented programming. Ivan Sutherland demonstrated with it that computer graphics could be used for both artistic and technical purposes in addition to showing a novel method of human-computer interaction.

Claude Shannon American mathematician and information theorist (1916-2001)

Claude Elwood Shannon was an American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as "the father of information theory". Shannon is noted for having founded information theory with a landmark paper, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, that he published in 1948.

Marvin Minsky American cognitive scientist

Marvin Lee Minsky was an American cognitive scientist concerned largely with research of artificial intelligence (AI), co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AI laboratory, and author of several texts concerning AI and philosophy.

Sutherland replaced J. C. R. Licklider as the head of the US Defense Department Advanced Research Project Agency's Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), when Licklider returned to MIT in 1964. [4] [5]

J. C. R. Licklider American psychologist and computer scientist

Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, known simply as J. C. R. or "Lick", was an American psychologist and computer scientist who is considered one of the most important figures in computer science and general computing history.

DARPA agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.

The Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), originally "Command and Control Research", was part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States Department of Defense.

From 1965 to 1968, Sutherland was an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University. Work with student Danny Cohen in 1967 led to the development of the Cohen–Sutherland computer graphics line clipping algorithm. In 1968, with his students Bob Sproull, Quintin Foster, Danny Cohen, and others he created the first head-mounted display that rendered images for the viewer's changing pose, as sensed by The Sword of Damocles, thus making the first virtual reality system. A prior system, Sensorama, [6] [7] used a head-mounted display to play back static video and other sensory stimuli. The optical see-through head-mounted display used in Sutherland's VR system was a stock item used by U.S. military helicopter pilots to view video from cameras mounted on the helicopter's belly.

Harvard University private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 postgraduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning. Its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities.

Danny Cohen is a computer scientist specializing in computer networking. He was involved in the ARPAnet project and helped develop various fundamental applications for the Internet. Cohen is probably best known for his 1980 paper "On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace" which adopted the terminology of endianness for computing. Cohen has served on the computer science faculty at several universities and has worked in the private industry.

Bob Sproull American computer scientist

Robert Fletcher "Bob" Sproull is an American computer scientist, who worked for Oracle Corporation where he was director of Oracle Labs in Burlington, Massachusetts. He is currently an adjunct professor at the College of Information and Computer Sciences, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

From 1968 to 1974, Sutherland was a professor at the University of Utah. Among his students there were Alan Kay, inventor of the Smalltalk language, Gordon W. Romney (computer and cybersecurity scientist), who rendered the first 3D images at U of U, Henri Gouraud, who devised the Gouraud shading technique, Frank Crow, who went on to develop antialiasing methods, Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics, Henry Fuchs, and Edwin Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and now President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

University of Utah public coeducational space-grant research university in Salt Lake City, Utah

The University of Utah is a public research university in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States. As the state's flagship university, it offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and more than 92 graduate degree programs. The university is classified among "Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity" with "selective, higher transfer-in" admissions. Graduate studies include the S.J. Quinney College of Law and the School of Medicine, Utah's first medical school. As of Fall 2015, there are 23,909 undergraduate students and 7,764 graduate students, for an enrollment total of 31,673.

Alan Kay American computer scientist (born 1940)

Alan Curtis Kay is an American computer scientist. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society of Arts. He is best known for his pioneering work on object-oriented programming and windowing graphical user interface design.

Smalltalk programming language

Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed reflective programming language. Smalltalk was created as the language in underpinning the "new world" of computing exemplified by "human–computer symbiosis". It was designed and created in part for educational use, more so for constructionist learning, at the Learning Research Group (LRG) of Xerox PARC by Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, Adele Goldberg, Ted Kaehler, Scott Wallace, and others during the 1970s.

In 1968 he co-founded Evans and Sutherland with his friend and colleague David C. Evans. The company did pioneering work in the field of real-time hardware, accelerated 3D computer graphics, and printer languages. Former employees of Evans and Sutherland included the future founders of Adobe (John Warnock) and Silicon Graphics (Jim Clark).

From 1974 to 1978 he was the Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science at California Institute of Technology, where he was the founding head of that school's Computer Science department. He then founded a consulting firm, Sutherland, Sproull and Associates, which was purchased by Sun Microsystems to form the seed of its research division, Sun Labs.

Sutherland was a Fellow and Vice President at Sun Microsystems. Sutherland was a visiting scholar in the Computer Science Division at University of California, Berkeley (Fall 2005–Spring 2008). On May 28, 2006, Ivan Sutherland married Marly Roncken. Sutherland and Marly Roncken are leading the research in Asynchronous Systems at Portland State University. [8]

He has two children, Juliet and Dean, and four grandchildren, Belle, Robert, William and Rose. Ivan's elder brother, Bert Sutherland, is also a prominent computer science researcher.




Sutherland has more than 60 patents, including:


See also

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The Sword of Damocles is widely considered to be the first virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) system. It was created in 1968 by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland with the help of his student Bob Sproull. Before he began working toward what he termed "the ultimate display", Ivan Sutherland was already well respected for his accomplishments in computer graphics. At MIT's Lincoln Laboratory beginning in 1966, Sutherland and his colleagues performed what are widely believed to be the first experiments with head-mounted displays of different kinds.

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  8. "About ARC". Asynchronous Research Center web site. Portland State University. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  9. CHM. "Ivan E. Sutherland — CHM Fellow Award Winner". Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  10. R&D 100 Archived 2009-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  11. von Neumann Medal
  12. ACM Fellow
  13. EFF Pioneer Archived 2010-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Software System Award". ACM Awards. Association for Computing Machinery. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  15. "Ivan Sutherland - A.M. Turing Award Laureate".
  16. Computerworld Leadership Award
  17. Piore Award
  18. NAS Member
  19. NAE member Archived 2010-05-29 at the Wayback Machine
  20. "Kyoto Prize" . Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  21. "Ivan E. Sutherland Display Windowing by Clipping Patent No. 3,639,736". Archived from the original on 2016-02-19. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  22. "Ivan Sutherland, Premio BBVA por revolucionar la interacción humano-máquina a través de la realidad virtual" . Retrieved 2019-02-19. (Spanish)
  23. "Ivan Sutherland, "padre de los gráficos por ordenador", Premio "Fronteras del Conocimiento" de la Fundación BBVA" . Retrieved 2019-02-19. (Spanish)
  24. 1 2 Sutherland, Ivan E. (1965). "The Ultimate Display". Proceedings of IFIP Congress. pp. 506–508.
  25. Alan Kay (Speaker) (1987). Doing with Images Makes Symbols (Videotape). University Video Communications, Apple Computer. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  26. Burton, Robert (2012). "Ivan Sutherland". A.M. Turing Awards. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  27. Sutherland, Ivan (April 1996), Technology and Courage, CiteSeerX