Dr. Edwin Earl Catmull, Ph.D. (born 1945) is a computer scientist and current president of Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. As a computer scientist, Catmull has contributed so many important developments in computer graphics.
Edwin Earl Catmull was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Early in life, Catmull found inspiration in Disney movies such as Peter Pan and Pinocchio and dreamed of becoming a feature film animator. He even made primitive animation using so-called flip-books. However, he assessed his chances realistically and decided that his talents lay elsewhere. Instead of pursuing a career in the movie industry, he used his talent in math and studied physics and computer science at the University of Utah. After graduating, he worked as a computer programmer at The Boeing Company in Seattle for a short period of time, before returning to Utah to go to graduate school in fall of 1970.
Back at the university he became one of Ivan Sutherland's students, sharing classes with Fred Parke, James H. Clark, John Warnock and Alan Kay. Catmull saw Sutherland's computer drawing program Sketchpad and the new field of computer graphics in general as a major fundament in the future of animation, which combined his love for both technology and animation, and decided to be a part of the revolution from the beginning. During his time there he made two new fundamental computer graphics discoveries: texture mapping, and bicubic patches, and invented algorithms for anti-aliasing and refining subdivision surfaces. He also independently discovered Z-buffering, even though it had already been described 8 months before, by Wolfgang Straßer in his PhD thesis. In 1973 Catmull made his earliest contribution to the film industry, an animated version of his left hand which was eventually picked up by a Hollywood producer and incorporated in the 1976 movie Futureworld, the science fiction sequel to the film Westworld and the first film to use 3D computer graphics.