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I had the fun of using this system when I was doing my undergraduate thesis. I had done some protein modelling work and ran straight into the problem that there was no way to get the beautiful models into my thesis - we had no printer.

I came up with what I thought was the genius idea of photographing the monitor, the problem was the CRT screen was so curved my models were all distorted. I ended up wheeling the whole SGI computer out into the hall and setting my camera up with a 500mm lens (borrowed from the graphics unit) at the other end of the hall (maybe 50m away). Worked great.




These early SGI machines did not have good support for printing. Even if you did have a printer, the only way to print was to take a screenshot, which had much lower resolution than laser printers and did not look good.

My first paid job - this was after the 10th grade in high school - was writing a kind of printer driver for one of these machines. One of the researchers at a local university had the same problem you did, and heard about this kid who was supposed to be good with computers :)

The SGI GL manuals (this was before it became OpenGL) included all the mathematical formulas they used to display the graphics - the rotation and perspective matrices to transform the coordinates, the vector cross products to calculate shading, and so on. I took these and implemented a subset of GL which outputted PostScript commands to a text file. This was then sent straight to a laser printer (Apple, I think). I didn't implement everything that SGI did, of course - no smooth shading and I think I could handle only the simplest types of occlusion. But it was good enough to handle the models that the researchers needed to print.

I still remember the SGI manuals in big 3 ring binders. This is what I learned linear algebra from - thanks guys.


I haven't thought about the binders in ages. There was nobody in my department who knew much about the SGI machines and my only tutor was those binders. Looking back I wonder how I accomplished anything at all.


I spent a week at SGI UK in 1994. Everyone had at least an Indy workstation as their machine, even for secretarial purposes. But still there were a couple of 486 PCs acting as print servers.


I worked at a remote office for SGI in 1992. I called my boss at the home office complaining I didn't have a computer to test software with. He apologized for having dropped the ball and immediately ordered a 16 processor system for me.

I don't remember which model that was but I do remember almost falling out of my chair as it was the top of the line system at the time.


I love this story, great digital to analog conversion.




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