Today is Blender's official 20th birthday! In order to celebrate, I invite everyone to share their first encounter with Blender, and talk about how it impacted their lives. I'll start with my personal story below.
This is my Blender story.
I'm not sure of the exact year anymore, but it must have been around
1996 or 1997 1998 (thanks, Ton! ;-). My Blender journey started when I first installed Linux on my desktop PC. Having finished the installation, I ended up with a system that allowed me to launch an XTerm, a clock, and a pair of eyes that followed my cursor around the screen.
In the years before, I used to do a lot of freelance computer animation work, and this got me thinking about Linux 3D software. I looked around, and found the just released Linux version of Blender - it must have been around version 1.36 or 1.37.
I still remember the total confusion Blender left me with. I couldn't even figure out how to quit it! Doing a 'kill' command was the only way I could think of!
Yet I was intrigued and continued to experiment. After a while I started to publish some simple tutorials (some of you may still remember those). I also found out that Blender's developer, one Ton Roosendaal, was actually Dutch, like me! I got in touch and visited him when he launched his first manual.
That moment was the start of a beautiful adventure - in the years after, I published tutorials, edited two 'Blender Tutorial Guides' for Ton (I just found the files of one of them and will publish them shortly, just for fun!). I then quit my job and went to work for Not a Number for two years. After the second bankruptcy I helped Ton launch the crowdfunding campaign to raise the €100,000 to buy back Blender's source code from the investors and release it as GPL code. I experimented a bit with the 'Blender Knowledge Base' and on January 3 (another birthday tomorrow! ;-), 2008 I started experimenting with blogging Blender news. You all know how that turned out.
I currently spend 1-2 hours a day running BlenderNation and it looks like I'll be involved with the Blender Institute some more this year - more on that later.
To me, Blender has always been an amazing passion that brings together so many talented, interesting, funny (and sometimes annoying!) people - I regard many of you as my friends, even if we may have only met a few times, or never at all. I truly can't imagine not having it in my life as it has influenced so many decisions I've made and things that I currently do. And not in the least, through BlenderNation, Blender helps me feed my family.
Thank you Ton, for your amazing and selfless gift!