Friday, 13 September 2019 12:09

FULL VIDEO: Pixar co-founder Dr. Alvy Ray Smith explains the pixel, history and more


Alvy Ray Smith is one of the living legends of our modern age, and his talk at the University of Sydney was a fascinating look at the history of the pixel, graphics, Pixar and plenty more.

So, what is a pixel?

A great person to ask is Alvy Ray Smith, who not only looked at digital light and the first pixels made by man, from black and white beginnings through to who really made the first colour pixels, but who was one of the co-founders of Pixar.

Dr Smith also explained the origins of the name Pixar, which are fascinating, too, with Pixar being the world famous animation film company that started with Toy Story and has made many more movies, and which is now owned by Disney.

The description of Alvy Ray Smith's talk is as follows:

"Digital devices are everywhere, but there are few people who would understand what pixels are beyond small points on a screen, nor their transformative role in our modern world.

"Pixar co-founder Alvy Ray Smith, who will discuss the invention of the humble pixel and how its creation led to the technology we use today.

"Co-founder of both Pixar and Altamira, Dr Smith was the first director of computer graphics at Lucasfilms, and saw the birth of the personal computer, internet, and some of the earliest colour pixels at Xeros PARC.

"He directed the Genesis Demo in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Pixar's first short: The Adventures of André & Wally B. He has also received technical Academy Awards for two inventions; notably the first full-colour paint program, the HSV (or HSB) colour transform, and the alpha channel."

Alvy Ray Smith said: “I plan to teach my audience what a pixel is. Surprisingly, most people don't know. It's a profound concept.”

“My talk at the University of Sydney is a celebration of the ‘Great Digital Convergence’, a huge event that happened at the recent millennium but was hardly noticed. It was the moment when all old media disappeared, replaced by a single new one – digital, of course,” he concluded.

Here is Alvy Ray Smith's presentation in full - please enjoy!


26-27 February 2020 | Hilton Brisbane

Connecting the region’s leading data analytics professionals to drive and inspire your future strategy

Leading the data analytics division has never been easy, but now the challenge is on to remain ahead of the competition and reap the massive rewards as a strategic executive.

Do you want to leverage data governance as an enabler?Are you working at driving AI/ML implementation?

Want to stay abreast of data privacy and AI ethics requirements? Are you working hard to push predictive analytics to the limits?

With so much to keep on top of in such a rapidly changing technology space, collaboration is key to success. You don't need to struggle alone, network and share your struggles as well as your tips for success at CDAO Brisbane.

Discover how your peers have tackled the very same issues you face daily. Network with over 140 of your peers and hear from the leading professionals in your industry. Leverage this community of data and analytics enthusiasts to advance your strategy to the next level.

Download the Agenda to find out more


Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



Recent Comments