Clarence Ellis (computer scientist)
Ellis had four brothers and sisters who were all raised by their single mother. At 15, Ellis got a job at a local company to help with the family bills. He worked the graveyard shift, working all night long. His main priority was to prevent break-ins and to watch over, but not touch, the company's new computer. In 1958 computers were very rare to own, so the protection of it was imperative. In Ellis's spare time at the insurance company he began to read the computer manuals that came with the machines. He taught himself the intricacies of the computer and became an expert. The computer used punched cards to record and enter data. One day at work, Ellis single-handedly saved the company by fixing a crisis with the computer. They had run out of punch cards, but with a quick change of some of the settings on the computer, he found a way to make the old punch cards work perfectly.In 1964 he received a BS degree major in math and physics, from Beloit College. Clarence Ellis attended graduate school and received his PhD in computer Science from the University of Illinois where he worked on hardware, software, and applications of the IIIiac 4 Supercomputer. Clarence Ellis was the First African American to receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science, in 1969. After his Ph.D., he continued his work on supercomputers at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Ellis has worked as researcher and developer at IBM, Xerox, Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation, Los Alamos Scientific Labs and Argonne National Lab. His academic experience This experience changed his life and threw him into the computer science field.
High school and college
Throughout high school, Ellis's teachers recommended that he attend summer school programs at the local universities in Chicago. This was his first encounter with college-level students and university life. Though poor, Ellis was able to obtain a scholarship to attend Beloit College in the fall of 1960.
In Ellis's junior year, a computer was donated to the college. He and his chemistry professor were asked to set it up. This single computer was the start of the campus's computer lab. This provided him the opportunity to develop his interest in computing.
While at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Labs, Ellis helped to develop the icon-based GUI, which later became the basis for Apple's Macintosh and Microsoft's Windows operating systems. He has also worked at AT&T/Bell Labs, IBM, and several large government research facilities. Ellis has lectured at MIT, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and internationally in Taiwan and Paris. As of 2008, Ellis is currently a professor of computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder.