Third Annual EFF Pioneer Awards

On March 24, at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Chcicago, Illinois, the Electronic Frontier Foundation presented its Third Annual Pioneer Awards to eight individuals or institutions who were judged to have made significant and influential contributions to computer-based communications or to the empowerment of individuals in using computers. The 1994 Pioneer Award recipients are Ivan Sutherland, Bill Atkinson, Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz, Lee Felsenstein, and the WELL (the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link).

Nominations for the Pioneer Awards were carried out over several national and international computer-communication systems from December 1993 to February 1994. A panel of six judges selected the winners from these nominations.

The Pioneer Award Recipients

Ivan Sutherland is the father of computer graphics. Author in the 1960s of the first graphics program for computers, Sketchpad, Sutherland is the person chiefly responsible for the recognition that computers can be more than advanced calculating machines--that instead they could be used as a medium for expression and design, an extension of the creative power of the human mind. Now at Sun Microsystems, Sutherland can be credited for making a triggering contribution to the modern-day emphasis on graphics in microcomputers and the beginnings of virtual-reality technology.

Bill Atkinson is one of the premier developers of the technology of the Macintosh personal computer. He was the graphics-toolbox developer for Apple's Lisa computers, for which he wrote the basic Quickdraw graphics routines at the heart of the Macintosh. Through his program MacPaint, Atkinson almost singlehandedly fulfilled Ivan Sutherland's vision of the computer as a creative tool, and his application HyperCard, the first truly mass-market hypertext product, put the power of Macintosh application and database design into the hands of nonprogrammers. Even in the small group of highly creative people who developed the Macintosh, a machine that continues to be a primary influence on nearly every new computer sold today, Atkinson, now of General Magic, stands out for both the breadth and the brilliance of his contribution.

In a world in which many computer enthusiasts seem to worship technology for its own sake, Lee Felsenstein has been a pioneer in bringing computers to the general public. For decades he has been outspoken in his commitment to the ideal of making computers work for communities and individuals rather than against them. Through his work on the Bay Area's Community Memory project, his critical role in developing computer user groups, his development of the seminal portable microcomputer, the Osborne I, and of the Pennywhistle modem, Felsenstein has consistently shown himself to be an exemplar of the pioneer spirit on the electronic frontier.

Whitfield Diffie of Sun Microsystems and Martin Hellman of Stanford University are the persons chiefly responsible for public-key encryption. In a period in this country's history when the government, and in particular the National Security Agency, had a near-monopoly on encryption technology, Diffie and Hellman developed public-key encryption, a technology that enhances the ability of individuals to keep their communications private and that eliminates the reliance of individuals on third parties to ensure the authenticity of communications. One implementation of Diffie and Hellman's work, Pretty Good Privacy, is a worldwide standard in public-key encryption. Virtually every current public-policy debate on encryption has been profoundly shaped by Diffie and Hellman's work.

Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz are key innovators and the premier theorists of computer-mediated communications. Turoff and Hiltz wrote the seminal book that helped define the electronic frontier: The Network Nation. The term we currently use for online discussions, "computer conferencing," was popularized by Turoff almost a quarter-century ago. The term was no metaphor--it was a literal description of what they had built in the EIES ("Eyes") system -- that is, a system that allowed people to "confer" via the computer. Hiltz's notion that computer conferencing could form the basis of communities is a concept that increasingly dominates popular discussion of online conferencing systems. Hiltz and Turoff forecast most of the common uses and conventions of online conferencing systems that we see today.

The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) is one of the best known conferencing systems and virtual communities in the United States. Although many commercial systems are far larger, the WELL is the fulfillment of the vision that Turoff and Hiltz articulated in The Network Nation. It has been a gathering ground for everyone from Grateful Dead fans to the founding members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Begun by Stewart Brand in the mid-'80s and long associated with the Whole Earth Review, the WELL continues to be the most influential example of "virtual community." Accepting the award for the WELL will be Cliff Figallo, former managing director of the WELL and former director of EFF's Cambridge office, now of Pandora Systems. Figallo, together with John Coate, is commonly regarded as a chief architect of the WELL's implementation of virtual community.


This year's judges for the Pioneer Awards were: Mike Godwin, online counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who coordinated the judging process, Jim Warren, Pioneer Award recipient from 1992 and founder of Infoworld, Mary Eisenhart, editor of Microtimes, Steven Levy, author of HACKERS and Macworld columnist, technology writer Paulina Borsook, and Mark Graham of Pandora Systems.

For further information, contact Mike Godwin or Stanton McCandlish at 202-347-5400. Internet:

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