Making Computer Graphics History Public
Event Type
This session WILL be recorded.
Interest Areas
Research & Education
Registration Levels
Ultimate Supporter
Ultimate Attendee
Exhibitor Ultimate
Enhanced Attendee
TimeThursday, 12 August 20215:30pm - 6:30pm PDT
DescriptionThis panel concentrates on publications in diverse formats, mainly books and video documentaries that make public the research about the history of computer graphics and interactive techniques. Both of the books presented have been published recently, making this a unique opportunity to listen to the authors: The panel has three presentations:

"Image Objects" Book by Jacob Gaboury:

Abstract: This talk will introduce my new book on the early history of computer graphics titled Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics (MIT Press, 2021). The book explores the important role that computer graphics played in the development of computer science in the second half of the twentieth century, with a focus on the archives and historical collections of the research program at the University of Utah from roughly 1965-1980. Adopting an “object-oriented” approach, I explore five technologies produced by Utah faculty and alumni that fundamentally reshaped the field of computer science and helped to transform the computer from a calculating machine into an interactive medium.

"A Biography of the Pixel" - Book by Alvy Ray Smith:

Abstract: The Great Digital Convergence of all media types into one universal digital medium occurred, with little fanfare, at the recent turn of the millennium. The bit became the universal medium, and the pixel—a particular packaging of bits—conquered the world. Henceforward, nearly every picture in the world would be composed of pixels—cell phone pictures, app interfaces, Mars Rover transmissions, book illustrations, videogames. In A Biography of the Pixel, Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith argues that the pixel is the organizing principle of most modern media, and he presents a few simple but profound ideas that unify the dazzling varieties of digital image making. Alvy's story of the pixel's development begins with Fourier waves, proceeds through Turing machines, and ends with the first digital movies from Pixar, DreamWorks, and Blue Sky. Today, almost all the pictures we encounter are digital—mediated by the pixel and irretrievably separated from their media; museums and kindergartens are two of the last outposts of the analog. Alvy explains, engagingly and accessibly, how pictures composed of invisible stuff become visible—that is, how digital pixels convert to analog display elements. Taking the special case of digital movies to represent all of Digital Light, and drawing on his decades of work in the field, Alvy approaches his subject from multiple angles—art, technology, entertainment, business, and history. A Biography of the Pixel is aimed at anyone who has watched a video on a cell phone, played a videogame, or seen a movie.

"SIGGRAPH @50 History" by Mary Whitton, Adele Newton, and Dave Kasik:

Abstract:As part of the advanced work for the ACM-SIGGRAPH Conference’s 50 th anniversary in 2023, the SIGGRAPH History Committee is conducting interviews a wide range of graphics pioneers. Their personal stories trace how they got involved in computer graphics and contributed to the Conference’s storied past. Their stories provide insight into drivers for long careers and capture their passion. The contributors share stories about graphics, graphics devices, and applications that drove innovation in engineering, science, industrial design, education, and any field that uses images as part of its vocabulary. The oral histories complement the other panelists'; excellent books.