Photo of Glen Culler

Glen Culler

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Physics

For pioneering innovations in multiple branches of computing, including early efforts in digital speech processing, invention of the first on-line system for interactive graphical mathematics computing and pioneering work on the ARPAnet.

Before Glen Culler came along, using a computer was much more difficult. A pioneer of the graphical “user-friendly” interface, Culler changed the way people used computers and, consequently, created a new vision for the future of computing.

In establishing the first computer lab at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he was a professor of electrical engineering, Culler created one of the first multiprogramming systems, and developed a method of vector graphics that is still used today. He also invented function keys in the modern day keyboard and developed the “theory of wavelets,” paving the way for the digital transmission of voice recordings. His work in computers led the Department of Defense in 1969 to designate UCSB as one of the four original sites of the all-important ARPAnet, the precursor to the internet.

By Lauren Clason