by Cole Abaius.
In 1985, the Graphics Group in LucasFilm‘s Computer Division was on the chopping block. As Robert Sutton relates, George Lucas wasn’t confident that computer animated films had much of a future, and as a result, department heads Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith (two pioneers of extreme importance) were being pressured to fire some of their workers. Instead, they offered up their own names to be culled, which saved the entire division. At least for that moment. It’s unclear what fate might have fallen on the Graphics Group had the Computer Division not been purchased in 1986 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs for a tidy $5m.
Of course, we know this department by another name: Pixar.
Jobs put his money down on a company he believed in, and the result stands currently as 26 Academy Awards, an absurd amount of box office money, a legion of fans worldwide and nearly complete animation dominance in the movie world. In 2006, Disney bought Pixar at an evaluated worth of $7.4b, making Jobs the largest Disney shareholder. He is stepping down as Apple’s CEO today, and even though it’s hard to say what kind of effect that might have on the film world, Jobs’s legacy already extends far beyond Pixar and beyond The Mouse.
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