• Sep 8, 1943
    (b.) - ?


An American engineer and noted pioneer in computer graphics, he is a co-founder of the animation studio Pixar. In 1965, he received his Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from New Mexico State University. In 1970 he received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, with a dissertation on cellular automata. From 1969 to 1973 he was an associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at New York University. While at Xerox PARC in 1974, he worked with Dick Shoup on SuperPaint, one of the very first computer paint programs. His major contribution to this software was the creation of the HSV color space. In 1975, he was recruited to join the new Computer Graphics Laboratory at New York Institute of Technology, one of the leading computer graphics research groups of the 1970s. There he worked on a series of newer paint programs, including the first 24 bit one (Paint3); as part of this work, he co-invented the concept of the alpha channel. He was also the programmer for Ed Emshwiller's pioneering animation Sunstone. He worked at NYIT until 1979. With Ed Catmull, he was a founding member of the Lucasfilm Computer Division, which developed computer graphics software, including early renderer technology. He and Ed Catmull co-founded Pixar. After the spinout from Lucasfilm of Pixar, funded by Steve Jobs, he served on the Board of Directors and was Executive Vice President. According to the Steve Jobs biography iCon by Jeffrey S. Young and William L. Simon, “he quit Pixar after a heated argument with Jobs over use of a whiteboard.” Despite being a co-founder of Pixar, Young and Simon claim that the company has largely overlooked his part in company history since his departure. For example, there is no mention of him on the Pixar website. In 1991, he left Pixar to found Altamira Software Corporation, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1994. He became the first Graphics Fellow at Microsoft in 1994. He is currently President, and Founder of Ars Longa, a digital photography company. He is married to Alison Gopnik, the author and Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. With his collaborators, he has twice been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his scientific and engineering contributions, to digital image compositing (1995 award) and to digital paint systems (1997 award). In 1990, he and Shoup received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award for their development of SuperPaint. He presented the Forsythe Lecture in 1997 at Stanford University, where he received his PhD in 1970 and his undergraduate alma mater New Mexico State University awarded him an honorary doctorate in December 1999. Also, he was inducted into the CRN Industry Hall of Fame at the Computer Museum in Mountain View, CA in 2004. In 2006, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In Turing’s Cathedral by George Dyson it is noted that he along with several others offered comments on early drafts of the manuscript
  • Date of Birth:

    Sep 8, 1943
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  • Noted For:

    Co-founder of the animation studio Pixar and major contributor to the SuperPaint software in his creation of the HSV color space
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