Douglas McIlroy ’54

Ken Knowlton ’52, BEP ’53, MS ’55, died recently. His role as a pioneer of computer-generated movies is well told in a New York Times obituary. Though Knowlton was a year ahead of me in EP, I did not meet him until we were grad students at MIT. We would later enjoy facing offices at Bell Labs. Ken was endlessly creative. Besides his pioneering computer graphics, I particularly remember the eerie feeling of typing at a special keyboard he made, on which you could read the keytops right through your fingers—good for instantly switching among alphabets. The trick was to project symbols onto the keytops through a half-silvered mirror above the keyboard that reflected the symbols to your eyes so you’d see them and your fingers simultaneously.