NYIT's Computer Graphics History Is Out of This World

November 17, 2015

This November is the 20th anniversary of Toy Story, produced by Pixar Animation Studios. The first feature-length, computer-animated film has digital roots in NYIT's Computer Graphics Lab (CGL). Formed in 1974, CGL's roster included future Pixar President Ed Catmull and co-founder Alvy Ray Smith, Walt Disney Feature Animation Chief Scientist Lance Joseph Williams, Dreamworks animator Hank Grebe, and Netscape and Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark. 

In the Winter 2003/2004 Issue of NYIT Magazine, Smith said: "Almost everything we touched at 'The Lab,' as we called it, was a first. Some of the more important firsts: The first full-color graphics system. We pushed from 8-bit to 24-bit graphics. In terms of colors that is a jump from 256 colors to 16 million colors. We actually reached 64 million colors at NYIT, including the first full-color paint program. We also designed the first scan and paint system, which is how Disney makes its 2-D cartoons today. And we designed the first digitally controlled video editor and the first digitally created TV ads. We were responsible for the first alpha channel—which means that we added transparency to the basic color pixel. Most people think Apple invented this idea. It didn't; NYIT CGL did. The list goes on and on. Oh, and it was the first concerted effort to have artists work with technologists."

Check out CNET Magazine's Nov. 12 article chronicling Pixar's legacy and connection to NYIT.

This content is part of The Box's "60 Years in 60 Days" series in celebration of NYIT's 60th anniversary in 2015.