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Sketchpad (aka Robot Draftsman) 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. It helped change the way people interact with computers. Sketchpad is considered to be the ancestor of modern computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs as well as a major breakthrough in the development of computer graphics in general. For example, the Graphic User Interface 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.



Sutherland was inspired by the Memex from 'As We May Think' by Vannevar Bush. Sketchpad inspired Douglas Engelbart to design and develop oN-Line System at the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) during the 1960s. Sketchpad was the first program ever to utilize a complete graphical user interface, using an x-y point plotter display and the recently invented light pen. The clever way the program organized its geometric data pioneered the use of "objects" and "instances" in computing and pointed forward to object oriented programming. The main idea was to have master drawings which one could instantiate into many duplicates. If the user changed the master drawing, all the instances would change as well. Another major invention in Sketchpad was that it let the user easily constrain geometric properties in the drawing—for instance, the length of a line or the angle between two lines could be fixed. Bolt, Beranek and Newman had a "similar program"[1] and T-Square was developed by Peter Samson and one or more fellow MIT students in 1962, both for the PDP-1.[2]


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