The Experimental Television Center is sad to report the passing of Dr. Donald McArthur on October 7, 2012. Don worked with others at ETC on several projects including his Spatial and Intensity Digitizer, a ground-breaking instrument, and the interface of a digital computer to analog video instruments. He also collaborated with Woody and Steina Vasulka on their Digital Image Articulator. Our sympathy extends to his family. The obituary follows.
Donald retired from Lockheed-Martin in Irving, TX where he worked designing computer software and hardware for imaging systems and simulators. Survived by his son Michael, Michael’s wife Sophie Alexander and their daughter Gemma Mae Rose of Newfield, NY; His first wife Jane McArthur nee Spicknall originally of Lincoln, NE; three step-children from his second marriage: Suzanne, Lisa, and John and their families; several cousins. Predeceased by his parents, aunts, uncles, several cousins, and his second wife Marilyn of Homer, NY.
Donald was born January 19, 1938 in Holdrege, NE the only child of David Kenneth McArthur and Olive Bernice McArthur nee Troutman. He attended Ragan schools through 8th grade, living on the family farm south of Holdrege. Donald graduated Holdrege High School in 1955, University of Nebraska at Lincoln 1959 with a B.A. and a PhD in Theoretical Physics in 1967. At the University of Saskatchewan-Saskatoon Don filled a post-doctoral fellowship post for six years at the Linear Accelerator Laboratory where he contributed mathematical physics and advanced electronics before moving to New York State to teach at the State University in Cortland.
In the early ‘70s Donald was invited to work with The Experimental Television Center, (then in Binghamton, NY), where artists, designers, and scientists gather to create new visual art forms and technological tools for the artists. Donald designed some of the early digital technology that lead to the development of computer-generated imagery, including 3-D images. This work led to a job with Singer-Link where he designed systems for the first flight simulator to train space shuttle pilots. His work took him to Irving TX in 1980 where he lived until 2004, working for several companies on imaging projects including LTV, Texas Instruments and Lockheed-Martin.
Don also taught as an associate professor at University of Texas at Arlington. His work earned several patents and had applications for the mars rovers and military training simulations. Donald co-authored at least one paper on simulation. This website talks about one of his innovations.
Donald had many interests throughout his life, besides being dedicated to puzzling out some new problem in his work, he enjoyed reading, writing, square dancing, Buddhist meditation, painting, travel and in his youth boy scouts and amateur radio. Don loved a good joke, even more if it was dirty.