Ronald Baecker

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Dr. Ron Baecker (born October 7, 1942) is a tenured Professor of Computer Science (cross-appointed to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and to the Faculty of Management) at the University of Toronto, and has held these positions since 1989. He is the founder of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) and the Technologies for Aging Gracefully Lab (TAGlab), both at the University of Toronto.

Ronald Baecker
Born October 7, 1942 (age 70)
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Citizenship U.S.
Fields Computer science; Electrical Engineering
Institutions University of Toronto
Alma mater MIT
Notable awards Named of one the "60 Pioneers of Computer Graphics"

Summary of Research Interests[edit]

Dr. Baecker is an expert in human-computer interaction (“HCI”) and user interface (“UI”) design. His research interests include work on electronic memory aids and other cognitive prostheses; computer applications in education; computer-supported cooperative learning, multimedia and new media; software visualization; groupware and computer-supported cooperative work; computer animation and interactive computer graphics; computer literacy and how computers can help us work better and safer; and entrepreneurship and the management of small business as well as the stimulation of innovation. Baecker is also interested in the social implications of computing, especially the issue of responsibility when humans and computers interact.

Early life[edit]

Ron Baecker was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin on October 7, 1942. When he was four, his family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His scientific career got off to an early start, when, in April 1958, he was awarded third prize in the American Chemical Society Chemistry test (Pittsburgh Section). Baecker went on to win several other science honors while at Taylor Allderdice High School, including attending the Westinghouse Science Honors Institute (Oct, 1958 to April 1959), and the Sun-Telegraph, Pittsburgh and Allegheny Count High Schools Scholastic Award in Science (1959).

In 1960, Baecker began work as a summer research assistant at Koppers Company Research Labs. He was awarded a B.S. degree in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“MIT”) in 1963 and received an M.S. degree in the then burgeoning field of Electrical Engineering, again from MIT in 1964. At the end of 1964, Baecker traveled to the University of Heidelberg in Germany to further his studies in applied mathematics where he stayed until July 1965. He returned to his alma mater to study Computer Science at MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and received his Ph.D. in June 1969.

He is married to Lil Blume who leads communication workshops across Canada.

Professional career[edit]

Dr. Baecker has held a wide variety of positions with the computer science, electrical engineering and management fields. These include the following: Professor of Computer Science (cross-appointed to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and to Faculty of Management) at the University of Toronto. 1989 to present.

Bell University Laboratories Chair in Human-Computer Interaction, University of Toronto, January 2002 to December 2011.

Founder and Chief Scientist, Knowledge Media Design Institute, University of Toronto, January 1999 to present.

Visiting Professor, Cognitive Neuroscience Division, Taub Institute, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, February to May 2006

Affiliate Scientist with the Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto, December 2004 to present.

Founder and CEO, Expresto Software Corp., May 1998 to October 2002.

Principal Researcher, Information Technology Research Centre, University of Toronto, 1990 to present.

Visiting Professor, The Media Laboratory, MIT, Cambridge, spring 1993.

Visiting Professor, Department of Computer Science & Faculty of Commerce, University of British Columbia, winter 1993.

Chairman of the Board, Human Computing Resources Corporation (“HCR”), 1977 to 1990.

Senior Visiting Scholar, Human Interface Group, Advanced Technology Division, Apple Computer, February to July 1989.

Associate Professor of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Management (tenured), University of Toronto, 1985 to 1989. Founder and Chief Executive, Human Computing Resources Corporation (“HCR”), 1976 to 1978 (part-time), 1978 to 1981 (half-time), 1981 to 1984 (full-time).

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, 1983 and 1985. Director or Co-Director, Dynamic Graphics Project, Computer Systems Research Institute, University of Toronto, 1972 to 1981 and 1985 to present.

Associate Professor (tenured), Departments of Computer Science, also Electrical Engineering Department, University of Toronto, 1975 to 1978 (full-time), 1978 to 1981 (half-time), 1981 to 1983 (on leave).

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, 1972 to 1975.

Summer Staff Member, Learning Research Group, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, summer 1974.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland, 1971 to 1972.

Commissioned Officer, US Public Health Service, Division of Computer Research and Technology, National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), 1969 to 1971.

Honors and awards[edit]

Ron Baecker was awarded the 2007 Leadership Award of Merit from the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (“ORION”) in June 2007.

He was also awarded the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society Achievement Award in May 2005.

Baecker was elected to the ACM SIGCHI CHI Academy in February 2005.

He was also named as one of “60 Pioneers in Computer Graphics” by ACM SIGGRAPH and honored with a photographic collection exhibited at SIGGRAPH ‘98 and later at the Boston Computer Museum, July 1998.

In 2011 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.[1]

Publications & Patents[edit]

For a complete list of Ron Baecker’s contributions to books, articles, papers, and interviews please visit his University of Toronto home page.


Baecker, R.M., Grudin, J., Buxton, W., and Greenberg, S. (1995). Readings in Human Computer Interaction: Toward the Year 2000, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 950 pp., including 190 pp. of original interpretive material.

Baecker, R.M. (1993). Readings in Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work: Software to Facilitate Human-Human Collaboration, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 882 pp., including 60 pp. of original interpretive material.

Baecker, R.M. and Marcus, A. (1990). Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs, ACM Press, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 346 pp.

Baecker, R.M. and Buxton, W. (1987). Readings in Human Computer Interaction: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 738 pp., including 150 pp. of original interpretive material.

Patents and Patent Applications

Smith, E.J.M. and Baecker, R.M., System and Method for Publishing, Updating, Navigating, and Searching Documents Containing Digital Video Data, U.S. Patent Application filed Dec. 2001, abandoned in 2005.

Baecker, R.M. and Small, I.S., Content-Based Depiction of Computer Icons, U.S. Patent Number 5,479,602, Dec. 26, 1995.

Baecker, R.M. and Small, I.S., Method for Generating and Displaying Content-Based Depictions of Computer-Generated Objects, U.S. Patent Number 5,586,237, Dec. 17, 1996.

Published Films & Videotapes[edit]

Baecker, R.M., Glass, G., Mitchell, A., and Posner, I.R. (1994). SASSE: The Collaborative Editor, 8 minute refereed video tape presented at the 1994 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 1994, also published in the SIGGRAPH Video Review 97.

Baecker, R.M., The Dynamic Image, 60 minute color sound film, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1987. (Distributed by Morgan Kaufmann, Publishers.)

Baecker, R.M., with the assistance of David Sherman, Sorting out Sorting, 30 minute color sound film, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1981. (Excerpted and “reprinted” in SIGGRAPH Video Review 7, 1983.) (Distributed by Morgan Kaufmann, Publishers.)

Baecker, R.M., Tilbrook, D., and Tuori, M., NEWSWHOLE—An Interactive Newspaper Pagination System, 10 minutes, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1976, refereed and presented at Siggraph 79 (“Reprinted” in SIGGRAPH Video Review 1, 1980).

Other Films & Videotapes Produced

Baecker, R.M., Hill, G., and Tuori, M., Computer-Animated Simulation of Taxi Dispatching Strategies, 10-minute sound film, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1976.

Baecker, R.M. (Producer), Computer-Animated Transit Models, 10-minute black-and-white silent film, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1975.

Baecker, R.M. (Producer), Program Animation Sampler, 20-minute black-and-white silent film, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1974.

Baecker, R.M., Smith, L., and Martin, E., GENESYS - An Interactive Computer-Mediated Animation System, 17-minute color sound film, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 1970.

Training of Highly Qualified Persons (HQPs)[edit]

Individuals who have been Baecker’s students or who have worked with him are or have been professors at the University of Toronto, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta, the Ontario Institute of Technology, Nipissing University, The Open University (U.K.), Hong Kong University, the National University of Singapore, Georgia Institute of Technology and several community colleges.

Others are or have been researchers or professional staff at Apple, IBM Canada, IBM U.S., Oracle Corp., Microsoft Research, Microsoft, Google, Sun Microsystems, University of Toronto, McMaster University, Bell Labs, NYIT Computer Graphics Laboratory, Xerox, Nynex, Intel, Nortel, SRI International, Pixar/Disney, Alias Research, ATI, Electronic Arts, Matrox, McGraw-Hill, T-Mobile, Amazon, Intuit, McKinsey Corp., Mark Logic, Silk Road Technology, Strategic Licensing, Caseware international, Artez Interactive, Altamont Computers, Nectarine Group, Sapient, and ISS (Singapore).


  1. ^ "ACM: Fellows Award / Ronald M. Baecker". Retrieved 2012-01-15.