Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad

Posted by Scott


Dusty sent me this video the other day and a quick image search yielded some pretty interesting stuff. It’s incredible to see the Sketchpad system in action; remember it’s 1963 and this is basically Illustrator or AutoCAD 0.01a. Here’s the video description:

Alan Kay presenting Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad, one of most influential programs in the history of graphical user interfaces.”

I love when the narrator says that light pens have since been discovered to be terrible input devices, leaving your hand numb. The funny thing is that the first mouse was invented the same year that Sutherland developed the Sketchpad system. It’s crazy that our primary input device is still the mouse, that’s almost a 50 year run. In computer time that’s just too long and I want my Minority Report screen asap. Although I often wonder if a big touch screen would really be that great. The fact that Microsoft seems to be the front runner in the field (multi-touch) doesn’t bode well for it either.

Video Link

11 Comments Leave A Comment


RA_OUL says:

September 4, 2009 at 3:04 am

Wow…This is my first time seeing Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad and I am stunned. This program/device seems like a very responsive system. I love the way the lines look on the window. It is amazing to see how much technology has advanced.


Harley Turan says:

September 4, 2009 at 8:38 am

The funny thing is that it’s actually so much more functional than Illustrator in terms of precise creation of vector shapes. Also bear in mind that this is effectively the first example of object oriented programming. Such an influential program.


kevin says:

September 4, 2009 at 9:27 am

This shit is wild!
I cant believe they could do that back then!
Is this real?
Did they have the computing power for “Sketchpad figures out & solve the problem”?


Anonymous says:

September 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Another thing you may be interested in adding is “the Mother of All Demos” in 1968 by Douglas Engelbart. The demo featured the first computer mouse the public had ever seen, as well as introducing interactive text, video conferencing, teleconferencing, email, and hypertext.


blackabee says:

September 15, 2009 at 10:43 pm

true that. @scott “I want my Minority Report screen asap”

the only reason microsoft is the forerunner is because they needed to look impressive after the iPhone came out 2 years ago. I have a feeling ms will continue keep the hype up until apple comes out some drop dead sexy system/interface in the years to come. I mean for real, you just know apple has been tinkerin’ with that new system for years now…


Rodrigo "Sal" Nobrega says:

July 16, 2010 at 8:25 am

Getting things like that in tape is good to remind people that today’s technology applications are nothing more than a “rescaled compendium” of yesterday cutting edge academic knowledge. That’s the way things will happen again tomorrow. Thanks for passing it along.