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This Could Be The World's First Computer-Generated Animation

It’s almost impossible to pin down when and where the first computer animation was created, given several companies and research facilities were dabbling in the new medium at the same time. But some believe this simple clip dating back to 1963 could indeed be the world’s first CG animation.

Not surprisingly, the animated clip isn’t exactly a T-rex dismantling a 4WD. Instead, its creator, Edward E. Zajac (who’s also narrating), was trying to model and simulate the motions of a satellite orbiting the planet. So the results are basically a wireframe rectangle circling a wireframe sphere — but back in 1963 this was a revolutionary accomplishment.

Programmed in FORTRAN at a time when punch cards were still the norm and ‘rendered’ on old IBM 7090 and 7094 computers, the results were then printed — frame by frame — onto microfilm where they could then be watched in real-time via a projector. It’s not the most exciting animated adventure, and it’s lacking everything from anti-aliasing to motion blur. But back in the day, this was as sophisticated as computer animation could be. [YouTube]


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