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Q&A With Alvy Ray Smith, Cofounder of Pixar

The digital graphics pioneer helped make possible the first computer-animated movie

5 min read
Photo of Alvy Ray Smith
Photo: Kathleen King

THE INSTITUTEMoviegoers often take for granted many of today’s computer-generated images and animations—unheard-of technology in the 1960s when IEEE Member Alvy Ray Smith began his career. Through the next few decades, he dazzled filmmakers by showing them what computers—and computer graphics—could do.

In 1986 Smith and colleague Ed Catmull founded Pixar, a company in San Rafael, Calif. Pixar teamed up with Disney, and six years later the company made the first computer-animated feature film: Toy Story. Pixar received the 2018 IEEE Corporate Innovation Award on 11 May at the IEEE Honors Ceremony, in San Francisco.Although Smith left Pixar in 1991 to help launch Altamira Software in nearby Mill Valley, his pioneering contributions paved the way for many of today’s animated blockbusters.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan
LightGreen

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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