A Look Back at the Earliest Computer Graphics Ever Made

We take computer graphics entirely for granted these days. The most insanely high-resolution, mathematically complex are everywhere, from hyper-realistic video games to digital art created through artificial intelligence.

2023 – An AI created graphics that took around 60 seconds to create, entirely from a simple text prompt.


It’s hard to ponder the how far we’ve come in the world of computing in the last 75 years.

Amy Goodchild has compiled a fascinating look back at some of the very earliest computer graphics, back when computers took up entire floors of a building, and cost millions of dollars apiece.

These first graphics made way back in the early 1950s were produced on computers, and show the promise of this technology, showcasing Spirograph-like forms that were cutting-edge back in this era.

Below are some of the most impressive explorations of early computer graphics, shown chronologically, showcasing the way these graphics evolved and advanced over time.

Oscillon 40, Created by Ben F. Laposky, 1952.

OscilIon 1049, created by Ben F. Laposky, 1956.


Computer graphics from 1961 showing the types of geometric forms and explorations possible.

The IBM 7090 computer at Bell Labs in 1960. This computer cost $2.9 million in 1960.


“Working in collaboration with Ken Knowlton and using his programming language Beflix, Stan VanDerBeek created a series of animated films called Poemfields from 1964 to 1967. These films featured typography layered over blocky graphical elements.” – Amy Goodchild

A. Michael Noll – 1964 – Ninety Parallel Sinusoids with Linearly Increasing Period


Amy Goodchild’s article is highly comprehensive, take a look at it here, and see some of the many other artist’s explorations of early computer art and graphics.

Via Kottke: