Dr. Ivan Sutherland is the 2012 winner of the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology. The award, created by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder of not one but two major Japanese companies — Kyocera and KDDI — is a Nobel-like honor given to individuals each year for advanced technology, basic sciences and arts and philosophy. Sutherland, who was born in 1938, isn’t a household name, but there’s nobody more deserving of such as honor. I got to chat with him recently about his work and the prize.
In 1963, while a student at MIT, Sutherland created a highly interactive drawing-and-design program called Sketchpad, at a time when the concept of computer graphics barely existed. It used an oscilloscope for a display, allowed the user to draw with a light pen and ran on MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s TX-2, which had a then-remarkable 64KB of memory.
Fortunately for us, MIT produced a…
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