Edward R. McCracken
National Medal of Technology and Innovation
For his groundbreaking work in the areas of affordable 3D visual computing and super computing technologies; and for his technical and leadership skills in building Silicon Graphics, Inc., into a global advanced technology company.
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Country of BirthUSA
Key ContributionsMovie Visual Effects (Jurassic Park)
Awarded byBill Clinton
Iowa State University
Areas of ImpactCommunication & Information
Anyone watching Forrest Gump or Jurassic Park wouldn’t likely be thinking of Edward McCracken. But perhaps they should.
McCracken, after all, had a hand in making those movies, even if he wasn’t sitting in a director’s chair or acting out any scenes. Both movies are among the productions that relied on technology developed by Silicon Graphics, Inc. for visual effects. McCracken was SGI’s chief executive officer from 1984 to 1998, a period that saw the company blaze a legendary trail in computer-generated visual effects.
The company was so dominant in its field that every movie nominated by the Academy Award for visual effects traced those special effects back to SGI computers.
McCracken, who graduated from Iowa State University in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and from Stanford with master’s degree in business in 1968, worked for Hewlett Packard for 16 years and rose to the rank of vice president. At Hewlett Packard, McCracken had helped launch the company’s HP 3000 commercial line.
Under McCracken’s high-profile guidance, SGI-developed computers and 3D technology not only played a role in movies and television but also were popular in the oil, gas, auto design and video gaming industries.
McCracken also was chaired the Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service and Development Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the poor.
By Bob Warren