History of 3D Computer Graphics

3D Burj

Computer graphics refers to using computer processes to generate images, do calculations and designs and also produce arts for illustration. In order to draw a 3D animation on a computer screen a computer must determine which surfaces are behind the object from various perspectives.
Do you know that this concept dates back more than 50 years ago with constant improvement each year? Here is the history…

• 1960s
Computer graphics design was an idea depicted mostly by engineering students. In 1960 a MIT student, Ivan Sutherland, discovered a sketchpad that would draw single shaped objects on computer screens and save for later use. The early computer graphic design relied on photoelectric effect where electrons released could form images on the screen. This period also saw introduction of video games and head mounted display by IBM.

• 1970s
This period saw development of software to assist in computer graphics this include: ANIMAC, SCANIMATE and CAESAR. They worked by scanning existing data and manipulating to either squash, spin or fly.
During this period microprocessor was developed that could design curved pictures and also generate motion pictures.

• 1980s
This period had great improvement on 3D computer graphics. There was introduction of a 3D software ‘Vol Libre’ that could use 3D features to control a computer generated flights across rugged mountains. Companies g. pacific data images and silicon graphics Inc.,sprung up. They provided an in-build 3D computer graphics that would display colour images on the screen. Mackintosh computers were also developed by Apple Inc. that had graphical interface.in 1986 TOPAS a high quality animation program for the PC was developed.

• 1990s
Computer graphics field had become adventures and interesting. Numerous advancements were made during this period. There was shift to photo-realistic animation that led to creation of computer animated full length films. Features of stop motion and go-motion were also invented. In 1994 there was invention of features to make motion images become blurred and invention of walk cycles to imitate animals.

• Early 2000s
The main advancement in this period was making images to be believable. There was more emphasis on production of color images. 3D computer graphics had advanced and spread all over the world and many companies had invested in this field. There was a mass production of movies with characters manipulated by the computer graphics.

• 2005 to date
In the modern society all designs are customised to three dimensional with state of the art digital effects. The designs take less time to be created and creatures used in the graphics are so real and believable. Complementary products e.g. 3D glasses have been invented to emphasize on photo realism. And introduction of computer automated games e.g. play station that are of high quality and can be manipulated by the user.


The 3D computer graphics that we enjoy today started as a simple idea long time ago. Various advancement have been made with improvements at each single stage. From mere cartoons to believable pictures in motion. Don’t belittle your idea.