Evans and Sutherland Picture System 330 (late 1980s)

These are screen shots taken with a 35mm camera from the two screens of an Evans and Sutherland Picture System 330/340 in 1988 or 1989. The Picture System and the VAX 780 that controlled it were both in the laboratory of Lyle Jensen at the University of Washington. Lyle had just retired at the time I arrived in Seattle, but still had an active research program.

Vector graphics (PS330)

The PS330 was a vector display driven from a host computer, in this case a VAX 780. The vector ribbon representation shown here was created by Phil Evans' ribbon module in the CCP version of Frodo. Frodo ran on the VAX; it downloaded a list of vectors to the PS330, which allowed you to rotate, zoom, and pick atoms or menu options via a data tablet (no mouse!). The hardware was remarkably reliable given that the VAX was in the next building over; the two halves of the system were connected by wires that ran into the ceiling of the computer room, down the hall, up an elevator shaft, and then along the corridor wall to the lab.

Images scanned March 2002

Raster graphics (PS340)

The early days of Raster3D
The PS340 was an add-on frame buffer that allowed the display of raster images downloaded from the host computer. Its total resolution was about that of a VGA monitor. In 1988/1989 I ported David Bacon's original Raster3D code to run on the VAX 780, and wrote a driver program to display the output on the PS340. This allowed you to compose a figure in CCP Frodo and then render the same view in Raster3D, as shown in this pair of images. This may have been the first setup that allowed composition and rendering of photorealistic molecular graphics images from an interactive model-building session. However, there were still some command line steps required in order to transfer the orientation matrix from Frodo to Raster3D.
Raster displays, pioneered by Silicon Graphics, largely supplanted calligraphic (vector) displays in the late 1980s. David Bacon, Mark Israel and Stephen Samuel ported the original Raster3D to an SGI Iris 3000 workstation at about this same time. In Seattle the PS330/340 was followed by a PS390 - a purely raster machine, though still driven from the VAX 780 - and then a series of SGI and DEC raster graphics workstations.

Ethan A Merritt - April 2002