Artifact Details


Sutherland, Ivan oral history, part 1 of 2

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In this oral history interview, Ivan Sutherland reviews his life and career largely chronologically, moving from his family background and youth, through his education, and his professional career up through his faculty position at Caltech. He discusses his parents and their influence on his and his brother Bert’s youths in Scarsdale, New York. In particular, Sutherland details the brothers’ involvements with Edmund Berkeley and Claude Shannon, and the home engineering projects they inspired, during Ivan Sutherland’s grade school and high school years. He reviews his experiences in electrical engineering education as an undergraduate at Carnegie Tech, and then as a graduate student at Caltech and MIT. He details his involvement with digital computing at MIT and its Lincoln Laboratory, and in particular his interactions with Wes Clark and the TX-2. He describes his development of the interactive computer graphics system “Sketchpad,” the subject of his PhD. Next, Sutherland reviews his service as an officer in the U.S. Army, first at a computing center at the University of Michigan, and then doing computer graphics at the NSA. He describes in detail his leadership of ARPA’s IPTO, succeeding J.C.R. Licklider, and his appointment of Bob Taylor as his deputy director. Sutherland reviews his ARPA experiences, and then discusses his next position as a tenured professor at Harvard. He details his work on 3D computer graphics and head-mounted displays. He details the formation of Evans and Sutherland, and his move to the University of Utah. After reviewing his experiences in Utah, he discusses his move to Santa Monica, California, his efforts at a computer animation startup and subsequent positions at RAND and as a faculty member at Caltech. He discussed his growing involvement with integrated circuits, and how this shaped his efforts at Caltech.




Brock, David C., Interviewer
Sproull, Bob, Interviewer
Sutherland, Ivan E., Interviewee


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA


83 p.






Sutherland, Bert; mechanical computers; Berkeley, Edmund; Robots; electromechanical computers; relays; Computer programming; Squee; Simon; Shannon, Claude; civil engineering; hydroelectric dams; Carnegie Mellon University; California Institute of Technology; Minsky, Marvin; MIT; Computer graphics; RAND; DARPA


Computer History Museum

Lot Number