James (Jim) F. Blinn

Most Recent Affiliation(s):

  • Microsoft Research

Other Affiliation(s):

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • University of Utah



  • Excerpt from Jim Blinn’s Web Corner:

    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. The results of this research have become standard techniques in today’s computer animation systems. They include realistic 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. These animations were shown on many news broadcasts as part of the press coverage of the missions and were the first exposure to computer animation for many people in the industry today. 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 several other standard computer graphics techniques including work in cloud simulation and 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. These have been collected into three books. From 1995 to 2009 he worked at Microsoft Research as a Graphics Fellow developing a new mathematical notation scheme that greatly simplifies the algebraic description and manipulation of curves and surfaces. He is currently retired.

    • 1970 B.S. University of Michigan, Physics and Communications Science
    • 1972 M.S.E University of Michigan, Computer, Information and Control Engineering
    • 1978 Ph.D. University of Utah, Computer Science

    SIGGRAPH 1993

    Jim is a professor at the California Institute of Technology and prominent contributor to Computer Graphics. His many papers have greatly influenced Computer Graphics and are amongst the most Cited works in the field. Jim is a recent recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation grant for his work in educational computer graphics animation. 

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