Netscape Founder Jim Clark
February 4, 2012 by staff
Netscape Founder Jim Clark, James H. Clark (born March 23, 1944) is an American entrepreneur and computer scientist. He founded several notable Silicon Valley technology companies, including Silicon Graphics, Inc., Netscape Communications Corporation, myCFO and Healtheon. His research work in computer graphics led to the development of systems for the fast rendering of three-dimensional computer images.
Clark was born in Plainview, Texas and endured a difficult childhood. He dropped out of high school after being suspended, and spent four years in the Navy. Clark began taking night courses at Tulane University’s University College where, despite his lack of a high school diploma, he was able to earn enough credits to be admitted to the University of New Orleans. There, Clark earned his Bachelor’s and a Master’s degrees in physics, followed by a PhD in computer science from the University of Utah in 1974.
After completing his PhD, Clark worked at NYIT’s Computer Graphics Lab, serving as an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1974 to 1978, and then as an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University from 1979 to 1982. Clark’s research work concerned geometry pipelines, specialized software or hardware that accelerates the display of three dimensional images.
The zenith of his group’s advancements was the Geometry Engine, an early hardware accelerator for rendering computer images based on geometric models which he developed in 1979 with his students at Stanford.
In 1982, Jim Clark along with several Stanford graduate students founded Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI). The earliest Silicon Graphics graphical workstations were mainly terminals, but they were soon followed by stand-alone graphical Unix workstations with very fast graphics rendering hardware. In the mid-1980s, Silicon Graphics began to use the MIPS CPU as the foundation of their newest workstations, replacing the Motorola 68000.
Soon, Silicon Graphics became the world leader in the production of Hollywood movie visual effects and 3-D imaging. Silicon Graphics focused on the high-end market where they could charge a premium for their special hardware and graphics software.
In the early 1990s, Clark fell out with Silicon Graphics management and left the company.
Clark has been married four times and has three children. In 2000, his daughter Kathy married Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube. The divorce from his third wife of 15 years, Nancy Rutter, a Forbes journalist, is reported to have cost him $125 million in cash and assets in the settlement. Soon afterwards he began dating Australian model Kristy Hinze, 36 years his junior. Hinze became his fourth wife when they married in the British Virgin Islands on March 22, 2009. She gave birth to a daughter in September 2011.
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