Another Blast From the Past

More than a quarter of a century ago, high-end engineering systems were actually pretty amazing (if a bit pricey). In 1991, I was fortunate to have the use of a Silicon Graphics Indigo workstation running SDRC Ideas. However, it was nothing like the SGI Onyx that followed two years later:

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A few years before that in the later 80s I was using a SG Indigo to run/develop Sonata…
The first really useful [affordable] 3d building modeling, rendering and production-info system - AutoDesk were desperate to stifle it at birth, but it survived…
I was chairman of their ‘Northern User Group’ in the UK, until Parametric Technology bought it and it disappeared into a black hole in the mid 90s…
It’s ‘inventor’ Jonathan Ingram / T² evolved it over several iterations, via Reflex - eventually its ■■■■■■■ progeny became Revit - which in turn AutoDesk snaffled up…

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For several years, I used the Indigo for a number of solid-modelling projects. Ironically, one of the projects was the Indigo 2 workstation for Silicon Graphics:

SGI sent the 3D solids model on a DAT tape and I used the Indigo to process it into an IGES file which was transferred into a GE Calma surface modeler. The bulge in the bezel was a rather tricky b-surf in how it blended in with everything else. The Calma system produced 3-axis CNC programs that were used to machine accurate prototypes out of ABS. Overall, we made one ABS model, one out of clear Lexan, and another over-sized ABS model that was used as a casting template for silicone molds. The molds produced five fully accurate, painted, and functional housings that were used in the initial promotional demonstrations of the Indigo 2 (this included the badge, logo, and a number of plastic clips).

Most of this project would have been trivially simple using SketchUp. However, the shape of the bulge (what SGI called their “power curve”) would have been difficult to accurately model using facets. On the other hand, since the design model was supplied by the customer, it could have easily been imported into SketchUp as an STL file or other format. There would still be the CNC programming to deal with, although 3D printing would certainly be a viable alternative today.

We’ve come a long way since then :grinning:

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