Artifact Details


Clark, Jim oral history

Catalog Number



Moving image


Jim Clark was born in March 1944 and grew up in the small town (12,000+) of Plainview TX. He characterized himself as “mischievous”, but his behavior was enough to get him kicked out of the high school band, and then the school itself. As a result, he decided to join he Navy at age 17, where he got his first exposure to electronics and took a large number of correspondence classes to fill the gaps in his education.
After getting an early discharge, he started college at Texas Tech. He had his first introduction to computers when one of his professors hired him to work at Boeing in Louisiana. Jim eventually completed his bachelor’s in physics and entered graduate school at Louisiana State University.
After deciding that physics was not the right path, he moved to the University of Utah to pursue a degree in computer science. He was fortunate to find himself in a department with computer graphics pioneers like Ivan Sutherland and Dave Evans. It was in this fertile environment where Jim developed his skills and interest in computer graphics.
Upon graduation from Utah, Jim became a professor at UC Santa Cruz and then moved to the New York Institute of Technology. He later moved back across the country and was hired as an associate professor at Stanford. This turned out to be a fortuitous place to land, as it led to connections with Xerox PARC, where he was able to build the “Geometry Engine”, a prototype for his work later in founding Silicon Graphics.
In 1982, Jim and several of his graduate students left to found Silicon Graphics. SGI grew rapidly and became the leading computer graphics company in the world. Overtime, Jim had differences with key management personnel about the future direction of the company. He felt that SGI should work to develop low-end products to fend off competition from PCs, while the management team wanted to continue to focus on the premium market.
As a result, Clark left SGI in 1994. He was looking to start another company and quickly teamed up with Marc Andreessen, the lead developer of Mosaic, an early web browser. The two of them cofounded the company, which eventually became known as Netscape, the leader in Internet browsers until overtaken by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Netscape was the second company founded by Clark to go public and attain a valuation greater than $1B.
But Jim was not done founding billion-dollar companies. In 1995, he started Healtheon to attack the paperwork nightmare associated with health-care industry. As a private company, its valuation also exceeded $1B, but when the industry didn’t warm to his product, Healtheon was sold to WebMD.
Subsequently, Jim has founded or funded numerous other startups, including myCFO, Neoteris, DNA Sciences, CommandScape, and most recently ZeroPW, a company focused on eliminating the need for passwords. Besides his numerous startups, Clark has been the owner/builder of several large sailboats. He now lives in New York City with his wife and two young children.




Clark, Jim, Interviewee
Hancock, Marguerite Gong, Interviewer
Weber, Marc, Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

New York City, NY






Oral history

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number


Related Records

102795133 Clark, Jim oral history