DEVELOPER OF 3D GRAPHICS MACHINES THAT HELPED LAUNCH THE WORLD OF “VIRTUAL REALITY”
Major and graduation year: Electrical Engineering, BS ’66
World building: Alumnus Edward R. McCracken is best known for being CEO of Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI), the company who launched the world of “virtual reality.” From 1984 to 1998, McCracken’s leadership led to the development of computers specifically designed for the creation and manipulation of 3-D images. SGI’s computers were used both for movies and television in Hollywood and for the development of early 3-D video games. SGI’s computers were used for the revolutionary visual effects in the movies Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump. From 1995 to 2002, every movie nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects had their special effects designed with SGI computers.
Other work: Before his time at SGI, McCracken worked for Hewlett Packard for 16 years, eventually rising to the position of Vice President. He has also served as a member of the board of directors for such companies as Digital Research, Inc., National Semiconductor Corp., Tularik, Inc., and Acumen International. McCracken has also served as Chairman of the board of directors for the Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service and Development (PRASAD) Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the economically disadvantaged all around the world, and he served as the former co-chairman of both The United States Advisory Council on the Information Infrastructure and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network.
Awards and achievements: McCracken received the Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering award from the Iowa State University College of Engineering in 1992. In 1995, he was named Executive of the Year by R&D magazine and was presented the National Technology Medal award by President Bill Clinton. McCracken retired as Chairman and CEO of Silicon Graphics, Inc. in 1998.