computer graphics in the 1950s
hilpert at cs.ubc.ca
Wed Oct 15 22:26:07 CDT 2008
> I'm trying to drill back before Sketchpad. For most people, Sketchpad is
> where it starts, but after reading the book on the SAGE system, I realize
> that SAGE predates Sketchpad for a couple key innovations. I am
> wondering if they originate with SAGE or had already been known
> techniques used in other computers before that. So far, I can't find
> anything earlier than SAGE.
I'm not sure if you're distinguishing here between SAGE and Whirlwind, but I'm
quite sure Whirlwind was using CRTs for graphical displays. I recall them being
mentioned in the Whirlwind book, although it's been years since I've read it.
Presumably it had to, as it was used to as a proof-of-concept (and marketing
hook) for SAGE. Whirlwind did run 'real-world' tests of the bomber intercept system.
I suspect it all started with the machines which used storage tube memory
(Whirlwind being one of them). They generally had viewable CRTs driven by the
same scan as the memory tubes and set up to help view and diagnose the memory
state. I believe the Manchester Baby (1948) had this. I'm sure it wasn't long
before someone decided to use these as a programmed display.
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