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A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation


mando.jpgHave you heard of the Stanford bunny? How about the Utah teapot? And how does a Mandrill primate, found in the tropical rainforests of southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Congo have anything to do with the history of computer graphics and animation?

Got your attention? Ohio State Universities College of the Arts sure got mine with an excellent web page covering the history of computer graphics and animation. Lets take a look at some of the interesting things they talk about. How about we start with the Mandrill primate.

Ohio State Universities College of the Arts states:

Image processing and computer graphics have been linked for many years by many similar issues , theories and algorithms. They are also linked by the common usage of the image of the Mandrill, an ape with a distinctive colorful face. The image is very good for image compression, enhancement, an processing tests, and has been used very frequently as a texture map or background image for CGI purposes.

How about this interesting quote, "The late 1950s and the decade of the 1960s saw significant development in computer graphics-related computing, displays, and input and output hardware".

It may sound unbelievable to many that any significant development took place in this time period, but it turns out everything from digitizing photographs to the design of aircraft via "surface patches" began their journeys during these decades. These were the years Steven Coons came up with the "Coons Patch" a formulation that presented the notation, mathematical foundation, and intuitive interpretation of an idea that would ultimately become the foundation for surface descriptions that are commonly used today, such as b-spline surfaces, NURB surfaces, etc.

If the 1950s and 1960s sounded unbelievable, how about CGI originating back in 1200 A.D. It seems that the history of computer graphics and animation goes much farther back. And I do mean much farther back. But rather then reading it here why don't you check out the great write up that Ohio state did. Find it here.


  1. I was led to believe that the Super Wu-Man invented graphics and all that...?

    Seriously though, I remember reading the IEEE paper from a guy in Palo Alto describing how he turned a trackball upside down by accident and found that it made a much more ergonomic input device, once the XY tracking was reversed...becoming the mouse. Gosh I'm old.

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