The Origins of 3d Modeling and Its Place Through the Ages

September 09, 2019

When we envision the developments behind the modeling prowess we see today - especially in animated movies - it is natural to think that progression of such a modern marvel is a relatively new concept. However, you may be surprised to come to find that the origins of 3D modeling date back almost 200 years ago.


It all started with Charles Babbage in the 19th century and his idea known as the “Analytical Engine” – a machine that remained un-funded and unimagined for almost 100 years, but was pivotal in performing complicated mathematical operations through programmable functions; the backbone of the modern computer.


The story of computer graphics took its next remarkable leap in the 1960s, more than 100 years after Babbage’s unrealized project, with the story of an MIT doctoral student known as the father of computer graphics.

technical report produced from his Sketchpad presentation

1963 – Ivan Sutherland Creates Sketchpad

As part of his doctoral thesis, Ivan Sutherland presented a fundamental shift in 3D modeling potential from tumultuous pen and paper undertakings. It marked the first time an operator could accurately draw out 3D shapes on a computer screen through the use of a light pen; establishing markedly improved efficiency when amending existing drawings or when producing several drawings that are repetitive in nature (as found in a technical report produced from his Sketchpad presentation).


Nonetheless, major limitations stood in the way from the commercialization of this advancement as Sketchpad was not able to operate on any other machine other than the one Sutherland had specifically designed it around.

3D modeling

The Investments of the 1970s

Commercial viability had become the most obvious stepping stone in order to open up scalability for 3D modeling technologies and major investments by key stakeholders occurred throughout the 1970s to make this a possibility. Most notably in 1973, when the University of Utah was granted a $5 million/year grant from ARPA due to their fervent interest in being able to create simulations for soldier and fighter pilot training - a now fundamental procedure in contemporary training regimens.


Other bedrocks of 3D applications around modeling can also be traced back to the University of Utah subsequent to this investment, such as developing texture mapping, shadows, antialiasing, and the famous Utah Teapot first modeled by Martin Newell. Teapot modeling still plays a crucial role for modern lighting and map testing due to its unique curvature, especially around the spout and handle.

businesses on an international level

A Modern Business Strategy

Thanks to the pioneering research and foresight shown by the remarkable talent discussed above, businesses on an international level are utilizing the power of 3D modeling that we provide at Vestra Inet to give them a competitive edge in the marketplace by providing their investors and customers with the detail and perspective they need to take the next step.


Whether you are looking to prototype your product or take your branding to the next level, reach out to our team to see how the 3D modeling we have provided for hundreds of clients has led to success and how it could do the same for you.

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