ancient 3d softwares

i just wanted to know, what kind of programs where used back in the 80`s for creating 3d art. what os-es, machines, programers, and where the heck are they now? is it possible to create a 3d software cemetery kind of website, where you can actualy try them out? interesting idea, i would like to try for example the stuffs used for creating the dinos in jurassic park, or in the terminator 2…or how did they render the fluid alien in the abyss?
anyone has any suggestion, info, gossip, feel free to share :smiley:

CG wasn’t very widespread in film until the 90s. I believe that all the movies you mentioned were rendered with PRMan… Not 100% sure on the Dinos but the water tentacle and the molten metal man were. I think the workstation of choice back then were SGI’s. I think that was the Indigo era mostly likely running SGI’s version of Unix. Sun workstations were popular back then too.

As far as just general 3D art in the 80’s. Sculpt 3D/Animate 3D were really popular on the Amiga and were eventually ported to the Mac. DKBTrace was a really popular app that was responsible, I believe, for the famous Amiga Juggler animation. DKBTrace was sort of a precursor to POVRay. I remember seeing Pixar’s Renderman available on the Mac at some point back then and Strata 3D for the Mac too (may have been called Stratavision or something like that).

For the most part, I think a lot of the stuff used back then was very expensive and very proprietary.

First application I used that did 3D was called “BigD”, a plugin for AutoCAD and run on an IBM PC and MS DOS. Next app I used was 3D Studio by Autodesk (I was a beta tester for version 1) and ran that on my blazing fast 386 computer. Next I bought an Amiga and installed Lightwave and Animation Master on it… the rest is history. Vintage? Around 1986-1989?

Heh, I remember creating a series of “slides” with autocad r12 to help visualize a part in motion - acad could then re-display these in order, showing how the movement would look…

I also tinkered with 3D Studio DOS v1! I thot it was the bomb! (I loved the feature that would display the “tweened” path of an object over time - kind of a rudimentary onion-skinning in 3D. I thot it was quite intuitive for its time. I still have some of the animations that I created with it! Pretty cool stuff in those days…)

Whoa…thnx for the replys, i’ve never imagined that we have some experienced users, beta testers from the early days amongst us! :smiley: i started learning 3d with maya 5 a few years ago, and in one of their book was mentioned a prog called topaz…do you guys know about this something? and one more interesting idea: what if the major 3d software developers would release free for use their first version software, i dont know, for more advertising themselves, like 3dsmax1, maya1, xsi1, …etc. You can use this dinosaur prog for free, and if you like it, buy the new, user friendly one…would any of these packages be serious enemy of blender, i mean could we create stuff with them. What we cant with blender?

haha great thread! I’ve been tuning up an old amiga 1200 someone gave me. I bought an A2500 back in 89? So I’ve got a ton of old amiga software. I actually just fired up Ageis 3d recently (animation 3d, same program?). which I think is the precursor to lightwave? I actually did a project with it in Highschool? A mayan temple for a school report… pretty funny. I used to be pretty good with Imagine 3.0 from impulse if anyone remembers that. I got that working again and it’s really wierd to use it after using Blender for awhile now. Imagine started as some other program in the 80’s too… can’t quite remember. Maybe enough time has passed that now we can start making retro 3d animation?

There used to be an early version of Caligari Truespace available free…I think it was v 3.2.

It’s here:

Lightwave for Amiga was one of the first on the block…I know that.

I used Imagine on an Amiga 2000 on the early 90’s. The character in the Halloween scene (shameless plug but true) on my home page was first animated crudely with that program, but I abandoned it then due to lack of time. It was not a bad program but they stopped developing it.

Didn’t blender start from some 3d app Ton started on the Amiga? I wonder if he’s got a copy of that app around for the Amiga somewhere? I’d love to fire it up and check it out.

I had an old package called 3d Workshop, but I think I threw it out…

Jazzdalek, do you think its possible to make those progs work under winxp with some amiga emu? I wanna try them out… :slight_smile: thanks for the replys everyone, especialy for truespace! But thats not gona stop me to use blender. I just wish, ton would make an orange project for developers, where great coders get paid for 6 months or more, to actualy finish some features what seems to be unfinished sometimes.

you could probably run them with UAE (universal Amiga emulator?) it’s kind of a pain to setup. You also have to find the amiga rom images etc… I don’t know if it’s really worth it for you. If I get a chance I’ll dig out my box of amiga disks and make a list of all the crazy 3d programs I collected for it.

If your interested in Imagine. There’s a pretty active fan site for it at I was checking it out yesterday and they have links
to download the winxp 2.19 version of imagine. Which I tried out and didn’t quite like as much as the amiga version. Though I have to say it was interesting for me to use imagine on my 1680 x 1024 lcd monitor since my old Amiga 1084 monitor was only like 620 x 400! :wink:

The first professional software I ever used was TDI explore (Thompsons Digital Images). The company merged with alias and helped Maya become what it is known as today. I took a summer course in the program at a local college. I took it in the early to mid 90’s.

I used the earliest versions of POV-Ray… in the early 90’s I think? Nothing more than a few texturable primitives, no Moray on sight. You didn’t model – you hand-coded. For some reason, what I remember most clearly is being able to SEE the scanline filling line after line… and dang, everybody in my class was so thrilled when those Phong-shaded spheres became recognizable…

I moved to 3DS (sans “MAX”) soon, which I had to upgrade my system to use. Very powerful little program, considering the technology.

One 3D package of the 80’s was The ANTIC Cyber Graphics Software on the Atari ST, which eventually became 3D Studio in beginning of the 90s.
Here is the link:

The first 3D application I used (a little bit) was Infini D on the MAC.
My first 3D jobs I did in TDI Explore.

@mrsnuffle: Remember the good old TDI times !

Im lost searching for the reason why anyone would want to. Classic gaming and classic cars are one thing, but im not goin out to the river to wash my clothes, lol.

Hmmm… I wonder what program was used to create Tron?

All custom stuff, really. Here’s a couple of quotes from the IMDB about it:

At the time, computers could generate static images, but could not automatically put them into motion. Thus, the coordinates for each image, such as a lightcycle, had to be entered for each individual frame. It took 600 coordinates to get 4 seconds of film. Each of these coordinates was entered into the computer by hand by the filmmakers.

While computer animation was used in several scenes, the technology did not exist for a shot to contain both live actors and computer animation. Live-action shots were fantasized using hand-drawn animation. Strong editing, such as with the light cycle chase, created an apparently seamless blend of actors and computer animation.