Lucasfilm Ltd. has sold its computer graphics division to Steven P. Jobs, co-founder and former chairman of Apple Computer, and the division’s employees, a spokeswoman for Jobs said Friday.
Jobs paid an undisclosed sum “in the several millions” for a majority interest in Pixar, which will become an independent company. The San Rafael-based company’s 43 employees own the remainder.
Jobs will serve as chairman of Pixar. However, the 30-year-old entrepreneur, who began his own computer company called Next Inc. last September when he left Apple, will not have responsibilities for the company’s day-to-day operations.
Edwin Catmull, who had been president of Lucasfilm’s computer division, will remain as president of Pixar.
Pixar was half of a computer division formed in 1979 by eccentric film maker George Lucas as part of his high-technology-oriented film company. The techniques and computers developed by Pixar have been used by both Lucasfilm’s special effects division, Industrial Light & Magic, and its games division.
Cunningham said Lucasfilm, will continue to use the Pixar technology to produce computer animation for films.
However, Catmull said, film making is seen as a minute market for the specialized computer and software. The Pixar Image Computer, which performs complex graphics operations, has applications in medicine, printing, geophysics and other areas, he said.
The company said it intends to introduce PIC within 90 days and said the computer will sell for about $125,000.
Pixar has been on the market for about a year, when Droidworks, the computer-aided film editing half of the computer group, was spun off from Lucasfilm. Although Pixar had considered several investment partners, “the fit was better with Steve (Jobs)” than the others, Cunningham said.
Jobs apparently used his own money to finance the purchase. In the past six months, Jobs has sold $37.4 million worth of Apple stock.