history of 3D graphics

in the 1960’s a man named William fetter (SEE WILLIAM FETTER POST)  created the term computer graphics to describe his new design methods, he was also in 1964 the first person to created in 3D a human figure model. Also a man named Steve Russel created the first 3d computer game named SpaceWars. also in 1965 Jack Bresenham created the first line drawing algorithm.

in 1972 Nolan Kay Bushnell the famous Pong  arcade game. John Whitney Jr and Gary Demos Created the very first computer graphics film. in 1974 a man named Edwin Catmuff created texture mapping and the Z-buffer hidden-surface algorithm, also James Blinn invented 3D curved surfaces and  the refinement of texture mapping, in 1976 he also invented enviroment  mapping and bump mapping.

Image courtesy nostalgia.com

in 1982 Steven Lisberger created Tron the  first Disney movie which makes extensive use of 3D computer graphics. in  1984 Wavefron tech.  created  Polhemus, the  first 3D graphics software. in the years following quite a few things where created these were:

  • 1985:
    • Pixar Animation Studios – “Luxo Jr.”, 1989, “ Tin toy”

    • NES – Nintendo home game system
  • 1987: IBM – VGA, Video Graphics Array introduced
  • 1989: Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) – SVGA, Super VGA formed
  •  in 1990 Hanrahan and Lawson created a piece of software called Renderman this was used in 1991 by Disney and Pixar to create Beauty and the Beast, a movie that used alot of CGI.in 1993 University of Illinois created Mosaic, the first graphic Web browser, also Steven Spielberg directed Jurassic Park, a very successful CG fiction film. in 1995 Buena Vista Pictures created the famous Toy Story movie, the first full-length, computer-generated, feature film and the NVIDIA Corporation introduced the GeForce 256 and GeForce3(2001)


    the history of computer graphics

    The history of Computer Graphics

    In the 1950’s, output are via teletypes, lineprinter, and Cathode Ray Tube (CRT). Using dark and light characters, a picture can be reproduced.

    • 1950: 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.
    • 1951: UNIVAC-I: the first general purpose commercial computer, crude hardcopy devices, and line printer pictures.
    • 1951: 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.

    • 1960: William Fetter coins the computer graphics to describe new design methods.
    • 1961: Steve Russel —  Spacewars, first video/computer game
    • 1963:
      • Douglas Englebart – first mouse
      • Ivan Sutherland  – Sketchpad, interactive CG system, a man-machine graphical communication system, it features:
        • 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.

    • 1964: William Fetter — first computer model of a human figure.
    • 1965: Jack Bresenham – line-drawing algorithm
    • 1968:
      • 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 display
    • 1969:
      • 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.

    • 1972: Nolan Kay Bushnell – Pong, video arcade game
    • 1973: John Whitney. Jr. and Gary Demos – “Westworld”, first film with computer graphics
    • 1974:
      • Edwin Catmuff –texture mapping and Z-buffer hidden-surface algorithm
      • James Blinn – curved surfaces, refinement of texture mapping
      • Phone Bui-Toung – specular highlighting
    • 1975:
      • Martin Newell – famous CG teapot, using Bezier patches
      • Benoit Mandelbrot – fractal/fractional dimension
    • 1976: James Blinn – environment mapping and bump mapping
    • 1977: Steve Wozniak —  Apple II, color graphics personal computer
    • 1979: 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.

    • 1982:
      • 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
    • 1983: Jaron Lanier – “DataGlove”, a virtual reality film features a glove installed with switches and sensors to detect hand motion.
    • 1984: Wavefron tech. – Polhemus, first 3D graphics software
    • 1985:
      • Pixar Animation Studios – “Luxo Jr.”, 1989, “ Tin toy”
      • NES – Nintendo home game system
    • 1987: IBM – VGA, Video Graphics Array introduced
    • 1989: 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 graphics applications.

    • 1990: Hanrahan and Lawson – Renderman
    • 1991: Disney and Pixar – “Beauty and the Beast”, CGI was widely used, Renderman systems provides fast, accurate and high quality digital computer effects.
    • 1992: Silicon Graphics – OpenGL specification
    • 1993:
      • University of Illinois — Mosaic, first graphic Web browser
      • Steven Spielberg – “Jurassic Park” a successful CG fiction film.
    • 1995:
      • Buena Vista Pictures – “Toy Story”, first full-length, computer-generated, feature film
      • NVIDIA Corporation – GeForce 256, GeForce3(2001)
    • 2003: ID Software – Doom3 graphics engine


    William Fetter


    William Fetter (1928-2002), an art director who worked for Boeing, was a computer graphics pioneer and the first to draw the human figure using a computer (above).

    He also Created the term Computer Graphics to describe the work he did at Boeing.

    William Fetter was an adapter as he took the hardware and software that was available and used it to create something useful from it.