This May Be the First Computer-Generated Motion Picture

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Of course, it was made at Bell Labs, like everything else.

This simple animation of a satellite orbiting a sphere may be the very first computer-generated movie. Ed Zajac created the simulation at Bell Labs in an effort to better understand the forces at play in the company's work with Telstar satellites.

"At the time, The Bell System was still deeply engaged in satellite research, having launched Telstar the previous year, with plans to continue developing communications satellites. Zajac's model is of a box ("satellite"), with two gyroscopes within," an AT&T archivist explains. "In the film, he was trying to create a simulation of movement -- the pitch, roll, and yaw within that system."

It's a far cry from Pixar, but this is the ancestor of all that CGI you see today. Humble beginnings.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/this-may-be-the-first-computer-generated-motion-picture/260286/