H. Philip Peterson

Born 1931-03-05
Died 1996-09-22
Pseudonymous: Phil Peterson

Hardly anything is known about Peterson’s life and work, except for his short term collaboration with Walter Heinz Allner, the famous graphic designer. This collaboration resulted in a portrait of William Charles Norris, at the time president of the Control Data Corporation, Peterson was working for.

Peterson had used the technique before to generate one of the best known works of early digital art, the “Digital Mona Lisa”.

Similar to what Ken Knowlton did (and later others, particularly in “ASCII art”), Peterson’s idea was clear and simple: Generate an image by composing it as a grid of pictorial elements picked from a given collection (repertoire) of primitive elements. Those elements were called micro-signs and they were what you found on a line printer, i.e. the characters of an extended character set. The simple aesthetics was to generate a superordinate figure (usually representational: portraits, buildings, quite popular were nude girls) from the given characters by simulating grey scales.

It seems to be extremely hard to find anything out about Harold Philip Peterson.
Even the dates given above as dates of his birth and death are questionable.

During the second half of the 1950s, he was working at MIT Lincoln Laboratories. There he was occupied with developing the TX-0 and [http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/pdf/mit/tx-2/TX2_Papers_WJCC_57.pdf] computers (the TX-2 became famous as the machine which Ivan E. Sutherland used to create his Sketchpad, Man-Machine Graphical Communication System).

During the mid-1960s (at least), he worked for the Control Data Corporation (CDC) Digigraphics Laboratories, at Burlington, MA (USA).