Artifact Details


Hannah, Marc oral history

Catalog Number



Moving image


In this oral history recorded at CHM Marc Hannah talks about helping design the Geometry Engine chip with his Stanford doctoral advisor Jim Clark (see his oral history in our collection) and cofounding Silicon Graphics Inc. The Geometry Engine established the niche for graphics coprocessors, which run alongside CPUs to handle the heavy math needed to manipulate images. In the 1980s the Geometry Engine would enable the imagery in movies like Jurassic Park, The Abyss, and Terminator 2 as well as in CAD, scientific visualization, engineering, and countless games. Descendants are now found in nearly every smartphone and computer, where they speed up repetitive calculations from graphics to AI. As Hannah notes, modern chips have a million times more transistors than the Geometry Engine.

Hannah grew up near Chicago and was recruited to the Illinois Institute of Technology through a Bell Labs scholarship program for talented minority students. He went on to Stanford, where he got interested in graphics and was introduced to Clark. Clark recruited him and several other students to cofound Silicon Graphics.

Hannah had helped Clark with the first Geometry Engine at Stanford. He now took over the design of the second generation, which was the core of the company's graphics terminals and workstations. He eventually became a VP and Chief Scientist.
In the 1990s, Hannah helped Clark think through the hardware needed for several potential consumer level machines, including a "telecomputer" that would combine a personal computer with broadband multimedia, and hardware that became the basis for the Nintendo 64 game console.

Following SGI Hannah worked for or started several technology ventures, including a stint at NVidia. He is a partner in the Strategic Urban Development Alliance (SUDA), a real estate company that tries to make a positive difference in low-income areas.

CHM also owes a special debt to Clark, Hannah, and their cofounders. Our main building was part of the original SGI campus, the rest of which became the Googleplex.




Fairbairn, Doug, Interviewer
Hannah, Marc, Interviewee
Weber, Marc, Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA, USA






Oral history

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number


Related Records

102792682 Hannah, Marc oral history