eTech & Art & More

Interview with James “Jim” Blinn, computer graphics pioneer

His real name is James F. Blinn, but in the computer graphics industry he’s more known as “Jim”, Jim Blinn. His e-mail address is simply, where he works on mathematical techniques such as using tensor diagrams to represent and solve geometric problems.

In 1976 he introduced environmental mapping, and in 1978 bump mapping. In 1983 he won the first SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.

Here he is – Jim Blinn!

Please Jim, tell me what first drew you to computer graphics?

It was around 1967 at the University of Michigan. I actually saw a computer that could make pictures and I was saying to myself “hey that’s cool, that’s what I
want to do”

I was on my way to get an exam in physics, but at the end I got one in computer graphics instead.

During that time I got access to a PDP9 computer from Digital Equipment that I could “play” with. That was nice.

Do you have any favorite CG mentors?

Yes, Marc Newell and Jim Jackson. I was actually Jackson’s assistant at the University of Michigan.

What year/city was your first SIGGRAPH?

1974, that was the first SIGGRAPH ever. And I have been to all of them since then.

What contributions to SIGGRAPH are you most proud of?

Probably bump mapping (in 1978). Why? Because that was something that no one else thought about at that time…

What near/intermediate developments in CG do you look forward to?

To find more uses for 3D computer graphics. And I think it will go quite fast, hardware is getting cheaper and cheaper very fast.

The problem is that there aren't sufficient people who know how to use
it. I mean, there are lots of people who can do word processing but not many who actually can create airplane models and similar things.

Anders Frick

Jim Blinn home page

Jim Blinn created the faceted teapot from the spline patches.

Jim has a complete set of SIGGRAPH proceedings. In the keynote celebrating the 25th SIGGRAPH, he describes each year.

Jim Blinn's 1998 keynote


This page is maintained by YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh All photos you see in the 2001 reports are due to a generous loan of Cybershot digital cameras from SONY