Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the impossible (but inevitable) takes a little longer

While I'm not familiar with the company or their technology, the acquisition of Caustic Graphics by Apple supplier Imagination Technologies seems like a very good thing, not least because Imagination Tech's own products integrate well with ARM processors.

My interest in computing really got started in 1983, just prior to the introduction of the Macintosh in early 1984, and during the mid-80s I took several CS classes at Colorado State University. During that time I attended at least one meeting of the student chapter of the ACM, the advisor of which had come to Colorado State from the University of Utah and was a graphics specialist. He showed the group a ray-traced cartoon, which looked very realistic except that the characters were obviously composited from simple geometric figures (spheres, cylinders, and cones), and the motion betrayed a lack of application of the physics of mass, gravity, force, and momentum. For that time it was impressive.

He briefly discussed the amount of computing resources invested in its creation, the details of which I don't recall, but I was left with the impression that each frame consumed hours of CPU time. I remember commenting to him that it would be a while before we were doing that sort of thing in real time, to which his first reaction was a blank stare, as though the idea hadn't even occurred to him, followed a moment later by pointed agreement.

Twenty-five years later, it looks like that time is approaching.

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