This thread comes up once in a while. I’ve answered it previously with vast volumes of fascinating tales of my youth. But alas, that’s all in the old forum archives (if they still exist anywhere). I’m getting old so I’ll try to get this out before my mind wanders to some never-never-land again.
At age 26 I started working at the Kennedy Space Center from 1974 to 1979 and had complete (and I do mean “complete”) operational control of the computers for the “Special Measurements Division” on the 2nd floor of the “Launch Control Center”*. I had two computers (Raytheon 706 and Raytheon RDS-500) used primarily for research data collection and display for the KSC weather bureau, Lighting research, and Shuttle ground support experiments, and other non-launch related special activities. (i.e. the really cool stuff). I was computer administrator, technician and the only programmer so I was pretty busy.
However, in my spare time… I used the electrostatic dot-matrix printers, manual hand-cranked, frame-at-a-time video disk recorders, and Tektronics storage-tube graphic displays to draw 3D objects and perform primitive animation of simple geometric object behavior. (rotate, orbit, bounce, etc) I had no commercial 3D or even 2D graphic subroutine packages to help me. I didn’t even have floating point arithmetic support in one of the computers. I had to build my own floating point arithmetic library, 2D graphic routines, and 3D graphic routines from basic principles. Hell, I even had to write my own hard drive driver for one of the computers. So getting a wireframe duodecahedron to bounce or orbit a cube was a big deal.
Fast forward from 1979 to 1999 and I found a $100 copy of RayDream Studio (ancestor of Carrara) and I could finally do graphics at home instead of on half-million dollar machines at work.
* PS: I loved my office: I had my office at one end of a leg of the “L” shaped laboratory about 30 feet wide and 60 feet long on each leg of the “L”. The floor was a raised “false-floor” typical of computer rooms of the time and my chair had smooth silent castors. I got pretty good at shoving myself (*wheee*) down the length of the room between, rows of analog data recorders and tape storage cabinets, from my desk to the computer consoles in the corner of the “L”. (*grin*)