Sign up FAST! Login

The Most Important Object In Computer Graphics History Is This Teapot

Stashed in: Pixar, History of Tech!, Computer Graphics, History of Tech

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:


Over the past few years, the teapot has been 3D printed back into the physical world, both as a trinket and as actual china. Pixar even made its own music video in honor of the teapot, titled “This Teapot’s Made for Walking,” and a teapot wind-up toy as a promotion for its Renderman software.

Newell has jokingly lamented that, despite all his algorithmic innovations, he’ll be remembered primarily for “that damned teapot.” But as much as computer scientists try to prove their chops by inventing clever algorithms, test beds for experimentation often leave a bigger mark. Newell essentially designed the model organism of computer graphics: to graphics researchers as lab mice are to biologists.

For the rest of us the humble teapot serves as a reminder that, in the right hands, something simple can become an icon of creativity and hidden potential. The original artifact now resides in a place of honor at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Its utterly pedestrian form seems almost out of place among the abacuses, mainframes, game controllers, and other computing gadgetry that dominate most of the exhibits.

You May Also Like: