Computer Scientist & Computer Graphics Pioneer
Jim Blinn made his first computer generated pictures in 1968 while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. From 1974 to 1977 he was a graduate student at the University of Utah where he did research in realistic rendering including specular lighting models, bump mapping and environment/reflection mapping. In 1977 he received a Ph.D. and moved to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he produced computer graphics animations for various space missions to Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. Also at JPL he produced animation for the PBS series COSMOS and for the Annenberg/CPB funded project “The Mechanical Universe”, a 52 part telecourse to teach college level physics. During these productions he developed a modeling technique variously called blobbies or metaballs. From 1989 to 1995 he worked at Caltech producing animations to teach High School mathematics for “Project Mathematics!” From 1987 to 2007 he had a regular column called Jim Blinn’s Corner in the IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications journal where he described mathematical techniques used in computer graphics. He has received the Siggraph Achievement Award, the Coons Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Ub Iwerks award and has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering.