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I cannot even figure out who made it - even the IMDB page is mostly blank, and Wikipedia does not seem to have any information about it. For such a useful film in CompSci, it strikes me as odd that the only meaningful Internet presence I can find are horrible quality copies or excerpts on YouTube.

[Note: SO claims this question was migrated to here, but the URL they provide gives a 404, and I can't find it by searching Programmers.SE, so I'm re-asking...]

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+1 from my side, great question. –  Fanatic23 Dec 30 '10 at 4:00

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

IMDB lists the author as Ronald Baecker. Wikipedia says he's a tenured Comp Sci professor at the University of Toronto.


The publication info there

Baecker, R.M., with the assistance of Dave 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.)

I dug around on the University of Toronto website and found his page


I suggest contacting him directly, everyone always loves to hear how their work has influenced future generations!

I also found in the references:

The half hour film — Sorting Out Sorting, one of the first profound demonstrations of the potential of computer animation to portray and elucidate computer program behaviour (publications B7, C13, D3, D4, G2, J5, K2).

G2 links to a Quicktime (.mov) file version:

http://past.kmdi.utoronto.ca/rmb/video/sos_recap.mov (summary speed x 12) http://past.kmdi.utoronto.ca/rmb/video/sos_dotclouds.mov (last scene)

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Jeff - thanks! Somehow, I read the IMDB entry as "Becker" instead of "Baecker", and thus couldn't find any further traces. –  TML Dec 30 '10 at 7:04

Here you go:


Quality's quite good.

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Thanks for the link - Jeff's answer was a bit more exhaustive, so I've accepted it, but here's a +1 for your trouble. :) –  TML Dec 30 '10 at 7:03

After emailing Prof. Baecker, he responded by directing me to this page at the University of Toronto's website, where you can purchase a copy of this video for $99 USD.

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