A Teapot in The Matrix

Yesterday's post on the "rendered" teapot, took me down a little rabbit hole. In the article there was a reference to the Martin Newell and the digitization of a Melitta Teapot in 1975. I was interested, so I dug a little deeper and what I found it is a cool little story about how a teapot played a role in the development of computer graphics. 

The University of Utah was a hot bed of computer graphics in the 70's (Don't believe me? Ed Catmull who is one of the founders of Pixar is an alum). While working on a new rendering project Martin Newell was wondering what to attempt to render. He brought this up to his wife while they were sitting to to tea. She recommended the teapot they were using and computer history was made. 

The teapot provided the right level of visual complexity while providing a neutral surface that would render well. He sketched it out and then went into the lab and created the image you see at the top. History was made

The teapot became a famous object with computer scientists and a standard test for the quality of software. In fact it had  become an inside joke with computer scientists, and you can find this teapot in movies like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and The Simpsons (Homer in the 3rd Dimensions, Tree House of Horrors episode). You'll have to look for it.

The Teapot now resides in Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California if you want to see this historical objct. Bringing Teapots into the Future. 


You can get more information at Wikipedia

1 comment:

Kourtney Stone said...

Great point of view on the history of computers. I never would have imagined and I never would have known this story.