Today at the headquarters in Toronto we celebrated developer Mark Elendt's 20th anniversary with Side Effects Software. 20 years, that's quite an achievement, especially in the IT business. I mean 20 years ago I couldn't even read yet, when my world was still filled with Fisher Price, wooden blocks and Duplo, Mark was already coding in C.
We had a little get together in the large boardroom, where Kim Davidson (CEO & President) used the opportunity to fire up his old Octane and show us what back in the day's was considered 'magic'. Insiders are probably aware of this, but in 1996 Houdini emerged from an application called Prisms.
Prisms has been in development from 1985 until 1999. Originally as an inhouse tool for Omnibus, but 1987 they got bankrupt and Kim Davidson and Greg Hermanovic (Derivative) bought the rights of the PRISMS 3D software source code and incorporate Side Effects Software.
I always thought that Prisms was something like Houdini but then lets say 'prehistoric'. Today how ever, I've learned that if you were one of the fortunate that had it installed on your machine, there wasn't a single place where the word PRISMS would show up. This is because PRISMS actually a set of Unix based standalone applications rather than one, o.a. Sage, Ice and Action.
If you can't get enough of this, I've listed a couple of the main topics in Side Effects Softwares history.
Crucial points in history:
What surprised me the most is that a lot of stuff that we know today in Houdini, was already there in Prisms. Did you ever wondered why, if you render directly to mPlay from a mantra ROP, you define it as 'ip' in the file path? Well because back then the image player was called ip. Or iPlayer, yes they invented that iThis, nThat, far far before the hype took over the rest of the world :-).
You might have heard or noticed, that Softimage ICE looks quite a lot like VOP's in Houdini. If they will ever admit they were inspired by Houdini is one thing. Never the less it goes a lot deeper than that. Because PRISMS Compositor was called: ICE, the worlds first node based program and also PRISMS first program which was coded in C++. To keep it positive I like to think that Softimage ICE is a homage to the progressive attitude of Side Effects Software, but let keep it real, I mean they were just jealous ;D.
I'm not so much of a 'it used to be better' type of guy, I rather like to look ahead. How ever, this is so old that it's actually kind of cool. So below you'll find some screenshots of PRISMS or the early day's of Houdini. Kim explained that taking the screenshots on the octane was a hassle, can you imagine how it must have been to create 3D animations in those day's :p.
Lava (Material Editor)
Moca (Motion Capture)
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