• 1938 December 08
    (b.) - ?


A Dutch-born American professor of computer science and former Vice-President for Research at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, together with Ted Nelson he is perhaps most well-known for his contribution to the first hypertext system, HES in the late 1960s. With it and its immediate successor, FRESS, he was an early proponent of the use of hypertext in the humanities and in pedagogy. The term hypertext was coined by Ted Nelson, who was working for him at the time. His continued interest in hypertext was crucial to the development of modern markup and browsing technology, and several of his students were instrumental in the origin of XML, XSLT, and related Web standards. He is also known for co-authoring Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice with J.D. Foley, S.K. Feiner, and J.F. Hughes. This book is an important text in computer graphics and is often fondly referred to as the "Bible" of computer graphics. In 1967, he co-founded ACM SICGRAPH, the precursor of today's ACM SIGGRAPH. At the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, he became the second person to receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science. He has mentored undergraduates, other scholars, and practitioners in hypertext and computer graphics two of whom are Dick Bulterman and Andy Hertzfeld. Another of his students was Randy Pausch, who gained national renown during his ultimately unsuccessful two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. Pausch's Last Lecture in September 2007 was the basis for the bestseller Last Lecture. The final speaker after the hour-plus talk, he praised Pausch for his courage and leadership, calling him a role model. Pausch died on July 25, 2008. Originally appointed as a Professor of Applied Mathematics, he helped to found the computer science program at Brown as a joint project between the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Engineering. When the program was promoted to a full department, he served as its first chair, from 1979 to 1985. In 1995 he was appointed Thomas J. Watson, Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education as well as Professor of Computer Science. He currently teaches an introductory course in computer science and courses in computer graphics at Brown University, as well as one first-year course every fall. When the Brown Center for Informational Technology was built, he demanded it include showers and a Chinese restaurant. The showers were built and continue to be used to this day. He is also serving on the Technical Board of Microsoft Research, as Chairman of the Rhode Island Governor's Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC), and as Chairman of the IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal committee. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, and a chaired professorship was recently endowed in his honor at Brown University. The character of Andy in the film Toy Story is supposedly named for him. It is reported the filmmakers, many of whom had him as a professor, wanted to pay tribute to his pioneering work in computer graphics. This story is told during admissions tours at Brown University and has made it into the IMDB trivia for Toy Story although he denies this rumor. Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice appears on the character, Andy's bookshelf in the film, which may be the origin of this rumor.
  • Date of Birth:

    1938 December 08
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  • Noted For:

    Co-contributor to the first hypertext system and co-founder of the precursor to the ACM SIGGRAPH conference, the New York–based Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
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