Ivan Sutherland

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Ivan Edward Sutherland (born 1938 in Hastings, Nebraska) is an American computer scientist and Internet pioneer. 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.



Sutherland earned his Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), his Master's degree from Caltech, and his Ph.D. from MIT in EECS in 1963. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as the National Academy of Sciences among many other major awards.

He invented Sketchpad, 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 famous paper "As We May Think".

Sutherland replaced J. C. R. Licklider as the head of ARPA's (now known as DARPA) Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO), when Licklider returned to MIT in 1964.[1][2]

From 1965 to 1968 he was an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard University. With the help of his student Bob Sproull he created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system in 1968. It was primitive both in terms of user interface and realism, and the head-mounted display to be worn by the user was so heavy it had to be suspended from the ceiling, and the graphics comprising the virtual environment were simple wireframe model rooms. The formidable appearance of the device inspired its name, The Sword of Damocles.

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