A Competitive Edge
"Advances in computer graphics have transformed how we use computers
While everyone is familiar with the mouse, multiple 'windows' on
computer screens, and stunningly realistic images of everything from animated logos in television advertisements to NASA animations of spacecraft flying past Saturn, few people realize that these innovations were spawned by federally sponsored university research.
"[For example] Hypertext and hypermedia have their roots in Vannevar Bush's famous 1945 Atlantic Monthly article 'As We May Think.' Bush described how documents might be interlinked in the fashion of human associative memory. These ideas inspired Doug Engelbart at SRI (funded by DARPA) and Andries van Dam of Brown University (funded by NSF) to develop the first hypertext systems in the 1960s. These systems were the forerunners of today's word-processing programs, including simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get capabilities
"High-quality rendering has caught the public's eye and is having a vast impact on the entertainment and advertising industries. From Jurassic Park to simulator rides at Disney World and dancing soda cans in TV commercials, the world has been seduced by computer animation, special effects, and photorealistic imagery of virtual environments
"One could continue with many more examples, but the message is clear: federal sponsorship of university research in computer graphics stimulated a major segment of the computing industry, allowing the United States to establish and maintain a competitive edge."
Excerpted from Computer Graphics: Ideas and People from America's
Universities Fuel a Multi-billion Dollar Industry by Edward R. McCracken,
Former Chairman and CEO Silicon Graphics, Inc. © 1995-97.