A Brief History
of Computer Graphics
is the discipline of producing picture or images
using a computer include modeling -
creation, manipulation, and storage
of geometric objects and rendering – converting a scene to an image, or the
process of transformations, rasterization,
shading, illumination, and animation of the image.
Computer Graphics has been widely used, such as graphics presentation, paint
systems, computer-aided design (CAD), image processing, simulation & virtual
reality, and entertainment. From the earliest text character images of a
non-graphic mainframe computers to the latest photographic quality images of a
high resolution personal computers, from vector displays to raster displays,
from 2D input, to 3D input and beyond, computer graphics has gone through its
short, rapid changing history.
The history of Computer
In the 1950’s, output are via teletypes,
lineprinter, and Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). Using dark and light characters, a
picture can be reproduced.
Ben Laposky created the first graphic images,
an Oscilloscope, generated by an electronic (analog) machine. The image was produced by manipulating
electronic beams and recording them onto high-speed film.
UNIVAC-I: the first general purpose commercial
computer, crude hardcopy devices, and line printer pictures.
MIT – Whirlwind computer, the first to display
real time video, and capable of displaying real time text and graphic on a
large oscilloscope screen.
In the 1960’s, beginnings of modern interactive
graphics, output are vector graphics and interactive graphics. One of the worst
problems was the cost and inaccessibility of machines.
William Fetter coins the computer
graphics to describe new design methods.
Steve Russel -- Spacewars, first
- Douglas Englebart – first mouse
- Ivan Sutherland – Sketchpad,
interactive CG system, a man-machine graphical communication system, it
- pop-up menus
- constraint-based drawing
- hierarchical modeling
- utilized lightpen for interaction
He formulated the ideas of using primitives,
lines polygons, arcs, etc. and constraints on them; He developed the dragging,
rubberbanding and transforming algorithms; He introduced data structures for
storing. He is considered the founder of the computer graphics.
William Fetter -- first computer model of a
Jack Bresenham – line-drawing algorithm
- Tektronix – a special CRT, the
direct-view storage tube, with keyboard and mouse, a simple computer
interface for $15, 000, which made graphics affordable
- Ivan Sutherland – first head-mounted
- John Warnock – area subdivision
algorithm, hidden-surface algorithms
- Bell Labs – first framebuffer containing
3 bits per pixel
In the early 1970’s, output start using raster
displays, graphics capability was still fairly chunky.
Nolan Kay Bushnell – Pong, video arcade game
John Whitney. Jr. and Gary Demos – “Westworld”, first film with computer
Edwin Catmuff –texture mapping and Z-buffer
James Blinn – curved surfaces, refinement of
Phone Bui-Toung – specular highlighting
Martin Newell – famous CG teapot, using
Benoit Mandelbrot – fractal/fractional
James Blinn – environment mapping and bump mapping
Steve Wozniak -- Apple II, color
graphics personal computer
Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle – MUD, a multi-user dungeon/Zork
In the 1980’s output are built-in raster
graphics, bitmap image and pixel. Personal computers costs decrease drastically;
trackball and mouse become the standard interactive devices.
Steven Lisberger – “Tron”, first
Disney movie which makes extensive use of 3-D computer graphics
Tom Brighman – “Morphing”, first film
sequence plays a female character which deforms and transforms herself into
the shape of a lynx.
John Walkner and Dan Drake – AutoCAD
Jaron Lanier – “DataGlove”, a virtual reality
film features a glove installed with switches and sensors to detect hand
Wavefron tech. – Polhemus, first 3D graphics
Pixar Animation Studios – “Luxo Jr.”, 1989,
“ Tin toy”
NES – Nintendo home game system
IBM – VGA, Video Graphics Array introduced
Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA)
– SVGA, Super VGA formed
In the 1990’s, since the introduction of VGA and
SVGA, personal computer could easily display photo-realistic images and movies.
3D image renderings are become the main advances and it stimulated cinematic
Hanrahan and Lawson – Renderman
Disney and Pixar – “Beauty and the Beast”, CGI
was widely used, Renderman systems provides fast, accurate and high quality
digital computer effects.
Silicon Graphics – OpenGL specification
University of Illinois -- Mosaic, first
graphic Web browser
Steven Spielberg – “Jurassic Park” a
successful CG fiction film.
- Buena Vista
Pictures – “Toy Story”, first
full-length, computer-generated, feature film
- NVIDIA Corporation – GeForce 256,
ID Software – Doom3 graphics engine
From games to virtual reality, to 3D active
desktops, from unobtrusive immersive home environments, to scientific and
business, computer graphics technology has touched almost every concern of our
life. The trends are still on and the question is what others are?