Meeting Ivan Sutherland

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Here is a story captured in an email to Chris Johnson and Hanspeter Pfister after the Siggraph Generations evening event:

Chris and Hanspeter,

I just watched the Siggraph evening event for Ivan Sutherland. Reminds me of a story.

In the late eighties, GE built a graphics system called the Graphicon. The GE Flight Simulator Division developed it in Daytona Beach. Actually, it was the motivation for developing Marching Cubes.

I often worked late and one afternoon around 5:30, I got a call from the head if GE Research, Roland Schmidt. He said a friend was visiting and asked if he could come down for a graphics demo. No problem. I met them at the elevator. When the door opened out stepped Ivan Sutherland! I gave a demo of the new system, showing shaded models generated by Marching Cubes. I said the Graphicon used Gouraud Shading. Ivan then said Gouraud was the fastest Ph.D. he had given.

It was great to hear Sutherland acknowledge the same timing to the audience.

The event was outstanding. I wish I could have been there to meet the other pioneers. Evans and Sutherland created a unique environment at Utah. I did my first graphics in 1967 and read and learned many of the papers by the panelists.

Ivan's description of the patent process at Sun almost rang close to home, When I first joined GE Research, we received $200 for each patent disclosure. We did not receive a bonus if and when the patent issued. So, Harvey Cline and I each received $200 for the Marching Cubes disclosure and nothing when it issued. Later GE raised the bonus to $500.

Chris and Hanspeter, congratulations on bringing these folks together.



PS: Seeing Henry Fuchs there reminded me of the great party that you(Chris) threw at a Siggraph in San Diego many years ago. I remember that Henry brought his charming mother and that you and I closed down the place.