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SIGGRAPH 98 History Project

Vol.32 No.3 August 1998

Equipment Exhibits

Carl Machover
SIGGRAPH 98 History Chair

During the early planning stages of our celebration, Dr. Gwen Bell, founder of the Boston Computer Museum suggested that it would be fascinating to create typical computer graphics working environments of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. We also wanted to reproduce the first equipment exhibit from SIGGRAPH 76 (held on the top floor of a dorm at the University of Pennsylvania). It’s been a sobering project trying to track down early equipment and systems. The Computer Museum was most helpful in lending early technology, as were many individuals and companies. But, often, we got the impression that “we eat our young” and don’t preserve early technology. For example, as this is being written, we have still not been able to locate important early storage tube terminals such as Tektronix 4002 or 4010.

However, we have succeeded in bringing together examples of our technology heritage, some operating and demonstrable (and some not!), which we hope will give the attendees a flavor for computer graphics in earlier times. A current list of exhibit contents by era booths is given below — subject, of course, to last minute changes.

In trying to reconstruct the first formal equipment exhibit at SIGGRAPH 76, we depended on recollections of folks who attended the conference. We could find no SIGGRAPH documents which listed the exhibitors. The consensus was that there were 10 to 12 exhibitors: Adage, Aydin, Boeing Data Systems, Calcomp, Conrac, Control Data Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation, Imlac, ISSCO, Summagraphics and Tektronix. As this is being written, we have not been able to locate any actual equipment which was exhibited, but we expect to populate the booth with photos and other artifacts. Also, a universally remembered feature of the exhibit area was a wine and cheese table in the center. Although we don’t know exactly what wine and cheese were served, we do plan to offer a similar repast in the booth!

Incidentally, one other objective of organizing this technology exhibit was to offer owners of early equipment an opportunity to contribute items to the Computer Museum. Anyone interested in contributing artifacts to the museum should contact: Mr. Dag Spicer,

Manager Historical Collections, The Computer Museum History Center, Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View CA 94035; tel: +1-650-604-2578; fax: +1-650-604-2594; email:

1960 Era Booth

  • Rand Tablet
  • Mona by the numbers picture
  • Digital PDP-8f
  • University of Utah Head Mounted Display
  • 4D Matrix (manipulator) engine
  • Original papers from Cambridge Lab
  • Scanimate

1970 Era Booth

  • Evans & Sutherland (E&S) LDS2, Color Stroke Picture System
  • Terak 6510
  • Vector General 3404
  • Vector General 3404 scope
  • VG-PDP 11/55
  • Boeing CT-5 Flight Simulator Components
  • Alvy Ray Smith’s Digital Paint System
  • B-Spline Tape for ES-PS1
  • Newman and Sproll book
  • VARIAN V77 Memory board

1980 Era Booth

  • SUN-1 workstation
  • PERQ workstation
  • Tektronix 4115
  • Mac 512
  • Apple-IIC with LCD
  • Watabe Plotter
  • Mac 128
  • Apple-1
  • Matrix Film Recorder
  • Amiga 1000
  • Amiga A500
  • Mitchell Animation Camera
  • HPP9845c
  • DEC V340