Star Wars: Prehistoric Computer Graphics

A friend and I presented a brief history of computer animation to a second year film class in the mid-1980s. I vividly remember that one of the example sequences was the crude B&W wire frame death star briefing room sequence from Star Wars. The animation looks incredibly crude by today's standards, but it was brilliantly futuristic in 1977.

Larry Cuba The wizard behind the early Star Wars CG was Larry Cuba, who worked out of the Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL) at the University of Illinois. Legend has it that he was pushing the hardware so hard to create the simple wireframe images that he constantly had to adjust the air conditioning in the computer room to avoid system crashes. Cuba used a vector graphics scripting language called GRASS (GRAphics Symbiosis System), written by Tom DeFanti at Ohio State in 1974. The system he used incorporated a Vector General CRT, DEC PDP-11 minicomputer, along with various cameras and recorders.

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