Chip Morningstar

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Chip Morningstar
United States
ResidencePalo Alto, California, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Michigan
OccupationAuthor, Academic, Developer of Software Systems

Chip Morningstar is an American author, developer, software programmer and designer of software systems, mainly for online entertainment and communication.

Morningstar held many jobs throughout his career in the research and development of technology and programs. Most notably was Morningstar's role as project leader for Lucasfilm's Habitat, the first large-scale virtual multiuser environment. In March 2001, Morningstar and colleague Randy Farmer were awarded the inaugural "First Penguin Award" by the International Game Developers Association for their work on Habitat. He also participated in Project Xanadu, for which the word hypertext was first coined. Additionally, he is credited with coining the term avatar for an on-screen representation and pre-Internet work in online information marketplaces.

Early life and education[edit]

He graduated from University of Michigan in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering.[citation needed] While at the University of Michigan he performed research in the Space Physics Research Laboratory, where he wrote device drivers and CAD software for electronic circuitry.[1][better source needed][non-primary source needed]

Chip Morningstar started his career as a research assistant at the University of Michigan and as an independent computer consultant. His original major was Aerospace at the University of Michigan. After his summer job in 1977 where he was surrounded by up to date computer technology, he changed his major to computer engineering.[2] In 1979, he took a job at the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM) as a research engineer. While at ERIM he developed image processing software, languages and tools for the Cytocomputer. Morningstar also co-invented the Leonard-Morningstar image filter algorithm.[1]


From 1984 to 1992, Chip Morningstar worked at Lucasfilm, Ltd. as a designer and programmer, as well as cyberspace consultant.[citation needed] While at Lucasfilm, Morningstar held the position of Project Leader for Habitat, an early graphical online multiplayer environment.[citation needed] Morningstar oversaw all development staff, as well as writing substantial portions of the server system himself.[1] Use of the term “avatar” for a human being's representative in a game world originated in Habitat,[3] in Hindu belief, the word refers to a deity's Earthly incarnation.[citation needed]

Presenting at the Second International Conference on Cyberspace in 1991, Morningstar and Randy Farmer found themselves bemused by the seemingly impenetrable postmodern "lit crit" of some academic speakers.[4][5] They revised their paper, "Cyberspace Colonies",[6] to feature a parody of this phraseology, and presented it on the second day of the conference. Morningstar subsequently published an essay on the topic, "How to Deconstruct Almost Anything",[5] which has been described as "a wonderful cutting-through of academic weed to find the ideas that flower at the center of post-modernism".[7]

Morningstar worked on The Palace, the world's largest graphical chat system.[citation needed] He was also worked on Project Xanadu, the first distributed hypertext system which was initially started in 1960.[citation needed]

Morningstar continued to work for various companies, such as American Information Exchange Corporation, Electric Communities, and Avistar Communications. In 2005, he took a job working for Yahoo!. At Yahoo! Morningstar was the principal architect and development team leader for the Yahoo! Core Identity Platform (CoreID). CoreID is a system that provides a framework for the storage and retrieval for all users of Yahoo!. He was also a team leader of the Yahoo! Reputation Platform, as well as a member of Yahoo!'s Social Media advisory program.[1]

Morningstar began working for MSB associates in 2009 and still works there as of 2011.[citation needed] The legal work that he is involved in deals with patents.[1]

Honors and recognitions[edit]

In March, 2001, Morningstar and his colleague Randy Farmer were awarded the First Penguin Award by the International Game Developers Association for their work on Lucasfilm's Habitat.[citation needed] This game contributed to the evolution of what is now known as massively multiplayer games.


  1. ^ a b c d e Morningstar, Chip. "Resume". Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  2. ^ Wallis, Alistair (12 October 2006). "Playing Catch Up: Habitat's Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer". Gamastura. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  3. ^ Kan, Michael. "What is an Avatar? Creators Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer Trace the Ancient Roots of the Latest Buzzword". Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  4. ^ Farmer, Randy (10 May 1991). "The Second International Conference on Cyberspace: Literary Criticism Collides With Software Engineering" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b Morningstar, Chip. "How to Deconstruct Almost Anything". Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  6. ^ Jacobson, Robert (28 April 1991). "Report on Cyberspace Conference 2, Santa Cruz, CA, Apr 91". Newsgroupsci.virtual-worlds. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  7. ^ Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. p. 613. ISBN 0-131-01816-7.

External links[edit]