“The cinema camera doesn’t make movies; it allows movies to be made. It’s the creative people who make it real to people.”Ivan Sutherland
Computer Assisted Design (CAD) uses mathematics to do the geometry and calculations necessary to draw and design. CAD is faster and more accurate than hand drawing.
Sutherland’s “sketchpad” software, part of his doctoral thesis, was the first CAD program. Literally, decades ahead of its time, Sketchpad enabled a user to tell a computer how to draw, place, and move geometric shapes.
As a professor at various University’s Sutherland became a “Johnny Appleseed” of modern computer science. Eventually, he influenced and trained countless computer scientists who went on to make groundbreaking innovations.
A small number of notable Sutherland students include:
- Alan Kay, inventor of object-oriented programming and the single-person modern computer (Xerox PARC).
- Jim Clark (Silicon Graphics, Netscape).
- John Warnock, inventor of PostScript, PDF, and co-inventor of spline fonts (Xerox PARC, Adobe).
- Edwin Catmull, texture mapping and computer-animation pioneer (Pixar).
- Bob Sproull, virtual reality.
- Gordon Romney, 3D rendering.
- Frank Crow, antialiasing.
No computer or business historian would argue that Sutherland is not one of, if not the most important, seminal scientists responsible for the modern computer.
Eventually, in 1964, Sutherland stepped away from academia and replaced J.C.R. Licklider as head of DARPA, during the time that DARPA invented the internet.