A timeline of 3D softwares

In the vast world of computers, softwares are like oxygen to computers. Softwares are a set of algorithms that process data and drive the computer in the way it has to do it. 3D softwares are those softwares that can process and work with 3D objects. Here, it is important to understand that the computer processes the data in 0s and 1s, but it’s the interface of the software which presents the 3D model with its details in front of our eyes. The 3D software can be categorized into 3D modeling software, 3D computer Graphics software, 3D Animation Software, and 3D rendering softwares. There are several softwares which do almost all 3D operations and do lots of multi-tasking.

Timeline of events on the development of 3D softwares

The development of 3D softwares is been done for almost half a century. There are a series of events and innovations that one must know to understand the advancements and achievements done to develop the softwares. Here is the timeline of events, that are most important for the development of 3D softwares.

15th Century AD – Leonardo da Vinci – The artist, mathematician, and scientist, who first drew accurate 3D drawings on paper.

18th Century AD – James Joseph Sylvester – He invented matrix mathematics, which is the base concept for the development of computer-generated images and softwares.

1960 – Ivan Sutherland – He is the developer of Sketchpad software, the first drafting, and 3D drawing software, which led to commercial usage of 3D models.

1964 – IBM & General Motors jointly developed DAC-1, Design Augmented by Computer which was used to speed up car production workflow and gave quick and better-quality car visualization.

1968 – Ivan Sutherland and David Evans, jointly founded “Evans & Sutherland”, the first 3D Graphics Company.

1971 – ADAM, CAD software that created a huge spike in the availability of CAD to people.

1971 – Donald P. Greenberg – He developed the first computer graphics movie known as Cornell in Perspective using the General Electric Visual Simulation Laboratory.

1974 – Ed Catmull – He discovered Z buffering or depth buffering. He also discovered texture mapping and bicubic patches in the computer graphics field.

1974 – Jim Blinn – He worked mainly on the development of a three-dimensional virtual world, like environment mapping and bump mapping. He also worked on the development of 3D animation TV series like Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Project MATHEMATICS! And also developed an animation of simulations of the Voyager spacecraft in the journey to Jupiter and Saturn.

1975 – Martin Newell – He developed Utah Teapot, which became the benchmark model for all the 3D softwares because of its structure, variety of surfaces it possessed, and the item’s ability to cast shadows on itself.

1983 – ‘’The Peak” – The first visualization done with graphics design by Zaha Hadid.

1990 – Hudson and Dan Silva – They released the first Autodesk 3D studio.

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3D representation of fetus by Leonardo Da Vinci | source- ©wikipedia.org
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Sutherland presenting in Sketchpad | source- ©wikipedia.org
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Ed Catmull | source- ©wikipedia.org
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Jim Blinn | source- ©wikipedia.org

Timeline of 3D softwares

Here is the timeline of important softwares based on release dates from oldest to newest:

1980 – Rhinoceros – The earliest NURBS based modeling software, commercial 3D software, and CAD application software. Rhino is mainly used for its speedy modeling workflows and with Grasshopper it became one of the main softwares for Parametric Architecture, in which visual scripting and coding with C#, Python, etc.

1982 – AutoCAD – It is a commercial CAD software and drafting software. With time, 3D workspace and modeling tools are introduced in the latest release. 

1984 – ArchiCAD 1.0 – The first software to implement the concept of BIM workflow, with the ability to 2D drafting, 3D modeling, and storing a large amount of data in the models.

1986 – Scan IP – The main software which is used in the medical field with the ability of 3D model generation and image processing from MRI, CT scan, microtomography, FEA, CFD, etc.

1988 – Cobalt (CAD Program) – One of the earliest parameter-based CAD programs and 3D modeling tools.

1990 – Cinema 4D – One of the earliest 3D animation and movie making software which is used for its effective workflow, advanced features, and good rendering quality.

1990 – MODO – It is a 3D modeling software that uses polygons and subdivisions for modeling, sculpting, printing, animations, and rendering purposes.

1990 – Adobe Photoshop – This software is known for graphic designs, animations, rendering, etc purpose. There are several other softwares developed by Adobe and acts complementary to Adobe Photoshop.

1993 – Adobe After Effects – This software is known for its post-production abilities for film, games, and other fields. This software had also received Academy Awards in 2019 for scientific and technical achievement.

1994 – Blender – This software is freely available for all platforms which are known for its animation ability, simulations, and applications of visual effects. This software was used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sabogal, Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation, Wonder Woman, Cinderella the Cat, etc.

1995 – SolidWorks – It is a solid modeling CAD and CAE software, developed at MIT and used by over 2 million users worldwide.

1996 – Autodesk 3Ds MAX – A professional 3D graphics, modeling, animation, game creation software which was used in the development of several TV commercial Ads, games, and animations.

1996 – Houdini FX – It is a 3D animation software used in Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, etc, and is used in the production of Fantasia 2000, Frozen and Zootopia, Ant Bully, etc.

1996 – Tekla Structures – One of the BIM softwares which is used in several projects like Denver International Airport Expansion, San Jose Earthquakes Stadium, etc.

1997 – Autodesk Revit – It is a BIM workflow-based software with 4D BIM capabilities which is used by architects, designers, structural engineers, etc. 

1997 – V-Ray – It is a computer-generated imaging rendering software used with several softwares like SketchUp, Cinema 4D, 3Ds Max, etc.

1999 – Autodesk Inventor – It is a CAD application for 3D mechanical modeling, simulations, designing, visualization, and documentation software.

2000 – SketchUp – It is a 3D modeling software used by architects, designers from all fields and other fields for its easy to understand interface and 3D modeling.

2000 – Make Human – It is a software for prototyping photorealist human characters which is mainly used by game developers, artists, researchers, etc.

2002 –FreeCAD – It is a parametric 3D CAD modeling software with the capability of BIM workflow with FEM support. 

2005 – Autodesk Mudbox – It is a 3D sculpting and painting tool that was used in the 2005 Peter Jackson remake of King Kong. It had also received Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievement for the concept and design in the year 2014.

2005 – MeshLab – It is a 3D mesh processing software which is mainly used by microbiologists, archaeologists, orthopedics related modeling, analyzing and scanning, etc.

2007 – EsriCity Engine – It is a 3D modeling software which specializes in creating 3D Urban environments and it is used by urban planners, architects, game developers, archaeologists, etc. 

2013 – Makers Empire 3D – It is a 3D modelling software made for kids of the age group 4 to 13.

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Blender workspace | source- ©wikipedia.org
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Rhino workspace | source- ©wiki.mcneel.com
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ArchiCAD workspace | source- ©www.applecoredesigns.co.uk
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Adobe After Effects workspace | source- ©creativedojo.net
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Make Human workspace | source- ©wikipedia.org
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MeshLab workspace | source- ©wikipedia.org

The application of 3D softwares now has advanced towards 3D Printing, VR/AR Developments, introduction to AI, etc. Though the person needs to understand which software to use in which case to get the most productive and efficient result. System developers and computer scientists played a huge role in the development of softwares and after over a century of development we achieved the golden era of computing and more advancements are taking place to push humankind a generation ahead.

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