Former University of Utah professor, computer graphics pioneer awarded Kyoto Prize

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 2:26 p.m. MST

In this undated photo released by the Inamori Foundation, American computer scientist Ivan Sutherland, is shown. Sutherland, 74, has won Japan's annual Kyoto Prize for his contributions to computer graphics technology and interactive interfaces that allow people to use computers without the need for complicated programming.

Uncredited, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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SALT LAKE CITY — A renowned University of Utah technology pioneer is being recognized with a prestigious international award.

Ivan Sutherland, a former University of Utah computer science professor and co-founder of the first computer graphics company, Evans & Sutherland, will receive the Kyoto Prize in a ceremony this month.

The Kyoto Prize is an international award to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind. The prize is presented annually in three categories — advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy.

Sutherland won the prize for pioneering achievements in the development of computer graphics and interactive interfaces.

Each laureate is presented with a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal, and prize money of 50 million yen — roughly $630,000.

Sutherland has been responsible for many pioneering advances and contributions to the computer graphics technology used for information presentation, as well as the interactive interfaces that allow people to utilize computers without the need for programming.

Sponsored by the Inamori Foundation, the Kyoto Prize presentation ceremony is held in Kyoto, Japan, each November. The foundation was set up in 1984 by Kyocera Corp.'s founder, Kazuo Inamori.

Sutherland developed the graphic interface program Sketchpad in 1963.

From 1968 to 1974, Sutherland was a professor at the University of Utah. Among his students were such tech luminaries as Alan Kay, inventor of Smalltalk language; Henri Gouraud, who devised the Gouraud shading technique; and Edwin Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and current president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

In 1968, Sutherland co-founded Salt Lake City-based Evans & Sutherland with colleague David Evans. The company performed pioneering work in the field of real-time hardware, accelerated 3-D computer graphics and printer languages.

Former employees of Evans & Sutherland included the future founder of Adobe, John Warnock, and Jim Clark of Silicon Graphics.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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