Thursday, July 16, 2009 |


IVAN SUTHERLAND , shown with his archetypical graphics system ,sketchpad,
is considered the father of interactive graphics.
Todays Graphics system owe their existence to an innovative graduate school project called sketchpad.
Back in 1960, interactive computer graphics would have seemed like an improbable idea. In that year , computer operators typically positioned stacks of prepunched cards onto computers like the Whirlwind at MIT. The Whirlwind weighed 250 tons , powered 12,500 vacuum tubes , and filled a two-story house . But in 1960 , all the elements needed for CAD to become a reality were in place.

The first element sprang from the development of the computer itself , which came in part from events surrounding World War II. In 1944 , the U. S. government financed the construction of MIT's Whirlwind computer for national defense purposes . The Whirlwind introduced the first prerequisite for CAD a CRT capable of displaying graphics .

In 1949, theRussian explosion of an atomic bomb stimulated the U.S. to und Project SAGE ( for Semi-Automatic Ground Environment ). In time , the SAGE computer linked all North American radar sites . Its operators used a hand-held photocell , or "light gun" the precursor to the light pen to assing intercept aircraft targets ( Soviet bombers ) repren\sented symbolically on the CRT . The second piece of the CAD puzzle was in place.
The Sputnik launch of 1957 generated futher interest and fiancial support for computer research. Researchers at MIT's Lincoln Laboratories developed the TX-0 and later the TX-2 computer , which had twice the memory of any computer of its day . Equipped with numerous switches , knobs , a keyboard , a point-plotting display , and a light pen , hte TX-2 had from the first been desinged to facilitate human-machine interaction . This was the third and final element essential to the development of CAD .

The atmosphere of acdemic freedom at MIT allowed some nontraditional research to take places Graduate students began playing space war the first computer game on the giant TX-2 computer. The game immpressed at least one of the students with the immense possibilities presented by real time interaction with the computer. That student was ivan sutherland , who used the TX-2 to bring together all the elements necessary for CAD in his doctoral thesis , "Sketchpad - a Man Machine Graphical Communication system ."

The cornerstone of Sutherkand's thesis was a film that showed him using Sketchpad on the TX-2 computer to sketch a bolt . A light pen provided the coordinates corresponding to the drawing commands entered on the keyboard. Sketchpad allowed Sutherland to recall previouly drawn display primitives ( e.g., circles and polygons ) to the screen . He was then able to rotate , scale , copy , and erase these primitives. The light pen let him edit existig drawing entiteies. Smaller version of mastr drawings were described as "intances" of the parent drawing . Drawing created by Sketchpad could be stored on magnetic tape. Many of the computer's switches were assinged functions , such as move and draw . In short , Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad was a complete and working CAD software package.

The "Robot Draftsman" as Sketchpad was later called , illustrated the potential of computer graphics and inspired almost all who viewed it. The idea thet people no longer had to become expert programmers to use the computer effectively was novel and exciting . Now users could produce graphics in real time and observe instantaneous results . Numerous scientists chose interactive computer graphics as a career field as s result of view in controlled machined part. Then came the Alto , an innovative stand-alone system developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California, inspired in part by Sketchpad . (Many now say that the Alto provided the most sigificant advancement in computer graphics). In 1970 , Ivan Sutherland developed view clipping and perspective projection to fuyther enhance CAD.

Sketchpad was not one isolated discovery; it was anentire methodology . Many brilliant scientist and engineers have contributed to advances in computer architecture , I\O devices, and displays tech. and these contributes are still ongoing . But in bringing togther the pieces for the archetypical CAD system , Dr. Ivan Sutherland set the stage for the $1.6 billion CAD industry of today . For this remarkable achievement , he is rightfully known as -
"the father of computer graphics".
We thanks IVAN SUTHERLAND for his Gift to the World.
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