Oral History of Edwin Catmull

Interviewed by John Hollar on 2013-03-01 at Pixar in Emeryville, California

Edwin "Ed" Catmull's career began at an important stage in the development of computer graphics, when declining costs of memory and computing power allowed for experimentation with new graphical techniques. After graduating from the University of Utah with a PhD in 1974 (in physics and computer science), Catmulll worked at graphics workstation vendor Applicon for a brief period. He then led the computer graphics group at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) where he worked with Alvy Ray Smith and others on computer animation techniques, culminating in the experimental film "Sunstone" by Smith and Ed Emshwiller.

Invited by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, Catmull, Smith and others then formed the computer graphics group at Lucasfilm. The group spun out, creating Pixar, in 1986, which attracted financing from Apple Computer, Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs. Pixar was sold to Walt Disney Studios in 2006 where Catmull was made CEO of the newly-formed Walt Disney Animation Studios.

In this oral history, Catmulll describes his long career and accomplishments in an interview with Computer History Museum CEO John Hollar.

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