Dick Ainsworth

ME-2 (1) copy

Early in my career as a freelance writer, I discovered that I could expand my range of assignments by including photos with my writing. As a result, a Leica camera and IBM Selectric typewriter quickly became companion tools.

Inheriting Dad’s Speed Graphic view camera changed everything. I began exploring large format photography, following the footsteps of Ansel Adams and others.

Adding computers and software capabilities to traditional photography has led me to expand the scope of both digital and film formats with multiple imaging techniques. With unlimited resolution at my disposal, I can now create large-scale photographs that remain sharp at close viewing distance.

In the beginning...

Me with IMSAI

Many of us discovered computers and how they worked by building one, like this early IMSAI 8080 sitting on my desk. These were, in fact, actual computers we could program. As a science writer in 1975, having a computer of my own was immensely satisfying and gave me an early view of the personal computer revolution to come.


BB book and arcade

The Bally Arcade was an early entry in the personal computer market. It was converted to a fully-programmable computer by the addition of the BASIC programming language. Bally BASIC was the first of my Computer Learning Lab series of interactive books showing people how to create games, music, and art.

Typing Tutor

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IBM Typing Tutor

Bill Gates hired me to write the manual for Microsoft BASIC. After finishing this project, I suggested that I could design typing software that would use computers to create interactive lessons, tailored to each person. Bill agreed immediately, and Microsoft Typing Tutor became the first educational software for the personal computer. I created subsequent versions of the original Typing Tutor for IBM, Tandy, Atari, and many other applications.

Stereo Panoramic Photography

My interest in extremely high-resolution photography provided images for some of the early electronic display systems and led to the first use of photography for creating an immersive VR experience.

In collaboration with Dan Sandin and Tom DeFanti, I designed the CAVEcam system for capturing high-definition spherical images in full stereo vision.  My textbook, Stereo Panoramic Photography is available from the University of California San Diego Library.


"Acquisition of Stereo Panoramas for display in VR environments"  

"The future of the CAVE"

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Photographer


Taliesin Winter © Dick Ainsworth and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Photographing Creativity   -   Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society

When I approached Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, it was not with the usual photographer's request. Instead of wanting to shoot performance images or posed studio shots, I explained that I was interested in visually capturing the process of creativity itself.

This process begins with the first rehearsal and continues up to and through the opening performance. I would be intimately involved in the rehearsals, often shooting dozens or even hundreds of shots while the musicians meticulously crafted the nuances that would make each particular piece of music a unique and moving experience. We quickly discovered that I could photograph freely in the midst of the rehearsals without disrupting this delicate process. After a while, my camera and I became just another fixture in the environment – somewhat like the "potted palm" standing in the corner room but never actually noticed.

Silent cameras and the lack of flash helped, but the main reason I can be visually intimate without intrusion is a kind of focused detachment. At times, however, the music itself penetrates this veil, and I would be compelled to stop photographing for a moment and listen. As a silent observer during rehearsals, I have visually documented the creative process integral to a live concert but never witnessed by the audience. This collection of images now allows me to share the unique and exciting process of creating the music before a public performance.

Photographing Creativity

Taliesin Hillside Theater


P2020002 Pan-R-s

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