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Ivan Sutherland

AKA Ivan Edward Sutherland

Born: 16-May-1938
Birthplace: Hastings, NE

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Engineer, Inventor, Business
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Father of computer graphics

Military service: US Army (1963-65, to Lieutenant)

Ivan Sutherland studied under Claude Shannon and Marvin Minsky, and conducted pioneering research in computer graphics, visual simulations, computer aided design (CAD), 3-D computer modeling, and virtual reality. In high school in the 1950s, he worked with SIMON, a primitive but groundbreaking computer capable of addition and subtraction, and wrote a paper-tape computer program teaching SIMON to divide as well. For his 1963 thesis at MIT, he wrote Sketchpad, the first graphical user interface, which used a light pen and control board to create complex graphic design, allowing lines and images to be lengthened, shortened, realigned to any angle. Until Sketchpad, CRT displays had been limited to text and two-dimensional charts.

After graduating, he worked briefly for the National Security Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he researched the new concept of computer time-sharing. As an educator, his students included Nolan Bushnell, Henri Gouraud, and Alan Kay. In 1965 he first proposed the possibilities of virtual reality, and with David Evans in 1968 he co-founded Evans and Sutherland, a high-tech firm now known for flight simulators and digital theater design. In 1970 he designed and built the first helmet display unit, a head-worn visual display that immersed the viewer in a simulated three-dimensional world. In 1980 he and Robert F. Sproull founded the consulting firm of Sutherland, Sproull and Associates, which was later purchased by Sun Microsystems and became Sun Labs. He has not worked on computer graphics since 1989, and his current projects concern computer architecture, logic circuits, and "macrochip" development that could allow much more rapid calculations.

Father: (civil engineer)
Mother: (teacher)
Brother: Bert Sutherland (computer scientist)
Wife: (two children)
Son: Dean Sutherland
Daughter: Juliet Sutherland
Wife: Marly Roncken (m. 2006, second wife)

    University: BS Electrical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University (1959)
    University: MS Electrical Engineering, California Institute of Technology (1960)
    University: PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1963)
    Teacher: Computer Sciences, Harvard University (1965-68)
    Professor: Computer Sciences, University of Utah (1968-76)
    Professor: Computer Science, California Institute of Technology (1976-81)

    Sun Microsystems Vice President (1991-)
    Sutherland, Sproull and Associates Co-Founder & Vice President (1980-91)
    RAND Corporation Consultant (1976-80)
    Evans and Sutherland Co-Founder & Vice President (1968-74)
    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Researcher (1964-65)
    National Security Agency Researcher (1963-64)
    IBM Researcher (1959)
    Association for Computing Machinery
    IEEE
    National Academy of Engineering 1972
    National Academy of Sciences 1978
    EFF Pioneer Award 1994
    Turing Award 1988
    Scottish Ancestry

Author of books:
Sketchpad: A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System (1979, 1963 thesis commercially published)
A Walking Robot (1983)
Logical Effort: Designing Fast CMOS Circuits (1999, with David Harris and Robert F. Sproull)


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