Book about ‘The History of Visual Magic in Computers’ Available
June 26, 2013

Book about ‘The History of Visual Magic in Computers’ Available

TIBURON, CA — If you have ever looked at a fantastic adventure or science-fiction movie, or an amazingly complex and rich computer game, or a TV commercial where cars, or gas pumps, or biscuits behaved liked people, and wondered, “How do they do that?” you can now satisfy your curiosity with The History of Visual Magic in Computers by distinguished computer graphics analyst Dr. Jon Peddie.

The 448-page book includes 369 illustrations, 226 in color.

From the Cold War to the Movies
"Though the Cold War was the primary catalyst for it all, it was difficult to write this book because it's impossible to trace a single line of development to generating beautiful, realistic images with a computer," said Dr. Peddie. "There is the complex pedigree of the computer itself; the basic math, the display and its controller, the software algorithms used to generate curves and textures, and the applications that tie all this together."

Computer graphics is used in a wide variety of industries, from automotive design, to movies, architecture, games, molecular design, and simulation/visualization of imaginary worlds and atomic bombs.

"In tracing these wondrous and exciting discoveries, I had to delve into seemingly obscure items and events," said Dr. Peddie. "Although no one event or trend was a direct representation of the use of 3D, each laid the foundation for the development of using 3D in computers."

Art and Science
3D in computers began as a way to represent automotive designs and illustrate the construction of molecules. 3D graphics usage evolved to visualizations of simulated data and artistic representations of imaginary worlds.

In order to overcome the processing limitations of the computer, graphics had to exploit the characteristics of the eye and brain, and develop visual tricks to simulate realism. The goal is to create graphics images that will automatically overcome the visual cues that create and cause disbelief that tells the viewer this is not real.

"Thousands of people over thousands of years have developed the building blocks and made the discoveries in mathematics and science to make such 3D magic possible," said Dr. Peddie. "This book is dedicated to all of them and tells a little of their story."

It Started with the Pyramids
Dr. Peddie, a renowned industry analyst and lecturer at the forefront of the computer graphics industry, has chronicled the developments that have led to these wonderful images. They are all based on 3D geometry, and he begins the story with the first major 3D implementations-the pyramids-and ends with the implementation we know today: tablets, 3D movies, and mobile games.

The History of Visual Magic in Computers traces the developments of DEC, Burroughs, SGI, and dozens of others, and shares how the technology from those companies found its way to AMD, Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Sony, to mention a few.  

Written in a narrative style with ample references for those interested in digging deeper. The History of Visual Magic in Computers traces the earliest understanding of 3D and then foundational mathematics to explain and construct 3D, from mechanical computers through tablets. Several of the most amazing computer graphics (CG) algorithms and tricks came during periods where new ideas and techniques seem to erupt all at once-all stimulated by the Cold War. With fundamentals of how to draw lines and create realistic images becoming better understood, more sophisticated applications have emerged. That, in turn, led to hardware 3D controllers that drove the sophistication of the display all the way to stereovision, virtual, and augmented reality. This book is a historical and visual treat with some amazing images.

The History of Visual Magic in Computers can be ordered on

( It is also available on Amazon.

Cover Design Images : Whirlwind photograph is courtesy of MIT

SRC7 convertible image is courtesy of Lightwork Design. Copyright Kheang Chrun
Nvidia's 'Dawn' image is courtesy of Nvidia
zStation image is ©Infinite Z.