Thursday, September 3, 2009


Sketchpad, designed by Ivan Sutherland for his PhD thesis in 1963, is the basis for CAD programs in particular and GUI interfaces in general. The computer covers the wall, what would be menu items today are kitschy sci-fi buttons and toggle-switches. A light pen serves as the modern computer mouse. Here is a video (in two parts) showing off the Sketchpad functionality. To get some idea how far ahead of its time this was, when I took my first programming classes at De Anza 15 years later I was coding FORTRAN with punch cards (and waiting an hour for the printout just to find out that I had made another typing mistake). The clips are about 10 minutes each, but if you like computer history they are a must see. Sutherland now is a VP at Sun and lectures at CAL (Go Bears!).

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