Ed Catmull, currently the president of the Walt Disney and Pixar animation studios, was one of the key people in the development of computer animation. Catmull was and is a software engineer, somebody who developed the nuts and bolts of making animation work with computers.
A couple of his early pieces have surfaced. The first, reported on Cartoon Brew, is a film from the University of Utah in 1972.
After the University of Utah, Catmull went to the New York Institute of Technology, located on Long Island, where he was involved with trying to find ways of joining the computer with drawn animation. John Celestri has reprinted a paper Catmull wrote called "The Problems of Computer-Assisted Animation."
Computer animation has reached a high level of sophistication but it wasn't that long ago that it was struggling to establish itself as a practical medium. These pieces show how far it has come in less than 40 years, all within the working lifetime of Ed Catmull.