Karl Guttag (KGOnTech) on Pixar, Patents, Pico Projectors, and The Early Days of Computers (Part 1)
Karl Guttag writes a popular technology blog at kguttag.com where he dissects optics and display systems, including the efforts of Magic Leap. He has 40 years of experience in graphics and image processors, digital signal processing, memory architecture, micro display devices, and micro display systems including Heads Up Displays and Near Eye Display, which are used for augmented reality and virtual reality.
He has 150 patents to his name related to these technologies and many billions of dollars of revenue attributed to those inventions. Karl spent nearly 20 years at TI (that’s Texas Instruments), and was named TI Fellow - the youngest in the company’s history. In the 20 years since, he’s been a CTO at three micro display system startups, in two of which he was also as a co-founder.
I had a long, wide-ranging conversation with Karl, which I’ve split into two episodes. If you’ve heard Karl speak before or read his blog, you’ll know he doesn’t hold much back. In this episode, Karl and I talk about his early influences, the pluses and minus of the current patent system, his time at TI, and the startup experiences that followed. He shares a number of stories about the early days of computer technology including the time he told Steve Jobs about Pixar before Jobs went on to acquire it. We also get into the topics of pico projectors and in-car heads up displays.
If you appreciate technology history and think there are some lessons from the past that might be useful for the future, you'll love this episode. (For more from Karl about microdisplay technology and the challenge of consumer-grade smartglasses, check out the next two episodes.)
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