World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Ivan Sutherland

Article Id: WHEBN0000078122
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ivan Sutherland  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of Turing Award laureates by university affiliation, List of Carnegie Mellon University people, Virtual reality, Computer graphics, Marvin Minsky
Collection: 1938 Births, American Engineers, California Institute of Technology Alumni, California Institute of Technology Faculty, Carnegie Mellon University Alumni, Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering Alumni, Computer Graphics Professionals, Computer Graphics Researchers, Fellows of the Association for Computing MacHinery, Harvard University Faculty, Living People, Members of the United States National Academy of Engineering, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, People from Hastings, Nebraska, People from Scarsdale, New York, Scarsdale High School Alumni, Turing Award Laureates, University of Utah Faculty, Virtual Reality Pioneers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ivan Sutherland

Ivan Edward Sutherland
Born (1938-05-16) May 16, 1938
Hastings, Nebraska, United States
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)
Alma mater MIT (Ph.D., 1963)
Caltech (M.S., 1960)
Carnegie Institute of Technology (B.S., 1959)
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, Robert P. Burton, Michael K. Ullner, Christopher R. Carroll
Known for Sketchpad, considered by many to be the creator of Computer Graphics
Notable 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)

Ivan Edward Sutherland (born May 16, 1938)[1] is an American computer scientist and Internet pioneer. 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 his 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".[2]


  • Biography 1
  • Awards 2
  • Quotes 3
  • Patents 4
  • References 5
  • Publications and external links 6


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 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".

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.[3][4]

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 the help of his student Bob Sproull, he created the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system, named The Sword of Damocles.

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, Henri Gouraud who devised the Gouraud shading technique, Frank Crow, who went on to develop antialiasing methods, and Edwin Catmull, computer graphics scientist, co-founder of Pixar and now President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

In 1968 he co-founded Evans and Sutherland with his friend and colleague David C. Evans. The company has done 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.[5]

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.



  • "A display connected to a digital computer gives us a chance to gain familiarity with concepts not realizable in the physical world. It is a looking glass into a mathematical wonderland."[18]
  • "The ultimate display would, of course, be a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter. A chair displayed in such a room would be good enough to sit in. Handcuffs displayed in such a room would be confining, and a bullet displayed in such a room would be fatal."[18]
  • When asked, "How could you possibly have done the first interactive graphics program, the first non-procedural programming language, the first object oriented software system, all in one year?" Ivan replied: "Well, I didn't know it was hard."[19]
  • "It’s not an idea until you write it down."[20]
  • "Without the fun, none of us would go on!"[21]


Sutherland has more than 60 patents, including:

  • US Patent 7,636,361 (2009) Apparatus and method for high-throughput asynchronous communication with flow control
  • US Patent 7,417,993 (2008) Apparatus and method for high-throughput asynchronous communication
  • US Patent 7,384,804 (2008) Method and apparatus for electronically aligning capacitively coupled mini-bars
  • US patent 3,889,107 (1975) System of polygon sorting by dissection
  • US patent 3,816,726 (1974) Computer Graphics Clipping System for Polygons
  • US patent 3,732,557 (1973) Incremental Position-Indicating System
  • US patent 3,684,876 (1972) Vector Computing System as for use in a Matrix Computer
  • US patent 3,639,736 (1972) Display Windowing by Clipping


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ R&D 100
  8. ^ von Neumann Medal
  9. ^ ACM Fellow
  10. ^ EFF Pioneer
  11. ^
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ Computerworld Leadership Award
  14. ^ Piore Award
  15. ^ NAS Member
  16. ^ NAE member
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

Publications and external links

  • SketchPad, 2004 from "CAD software – history of CAD CAM" by CADAZZ
  • Sutherland's 1963 Ph.D. Thesis from Massachusetts Institute of Technology republished in 2003 by University of Cambridge as Technical Report Number 574, Sketchpad, A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System. His thesis supervisor was Claude Shannon, father of information theory.
  • Duchess Chips for Process-Specific Wire Capacitance Characterization, The, by Jon Lexau, Jonathan Gainsley, Ann Coulthard and Ivan E. Sutherland, Sun Microsystems Laboratories Report Number TR-2001-100, October 2001
  • Technology And Courage by Ivan Sutherland, Sun Microsystems Laboratories Perspectives Essay Series, Perspectives-96-1 (April 1996)
  • Biography, "Ivan Sutherland" circa 1996, hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing
  • Counterflow Pipeline Processor Architecture, by Ivan E. Sutherland, Charles E. Molnar (Charles Molnar), and Robert F. Sproull (Bob Sproull), Sun Microsystems Laboratories Report Number TR-94-25, April 1994
  • Oral history interview with Ivan Sutherland at Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Sutherland describes his tenure as head of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) from 1963 to 1965. He discusses the existing programs as established by J. C. R. Licklider and the new initiatives started while he was there: projects in graphics and networking, the ILLIAC IV, and the Macromodule program.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.