Ivan E. Sutherland was born in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1938. He received a BS from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (1959) in electrical engineering, an MS from Caltech (1960) and a PhD in electrical engineering from MIT (1963).
Sutherland's dissertation, Sketchpad: A Man Machine Graphical Communication System, described a groundbreaking interactive computer-aided design system, one whose graceful interaction and functionality inspire admiration among computer graphics professionals even today.
From 1964 to 1966, Sutherland was director of the Information Processing Techniques Office of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), where he guided computer research across the United States. In 1968, he joined colleague David Evans to build a center of computer graphics research at the University of Utah and to found with him the Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation.
From 1976 to 1980, Sutherland served as chairman of computer science at Caltech, and from 1980 onwards, was a vice president of the consulting firm Sutherland, Sproull and Associates, acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1990 to form the basis of its corporate research laboratory.
Sutherland has won many awards for his work, including the ACM Turing Award (1988) and the IEEE John von Neumann Medal (1998).