The Beginnings of Computer Art in the United States: A Memoir

Author(s): A. Michael Noll

‘Three decades ago, such terms as computer art, virtual reality and computer animation had not yet entered our vocabulary. This was a time for the experimentation and innovation that produced today’s industry of computer art and animation, along with new media for creative experiences with computers. The author has used digital computers in a variety of the visual arts, including still images, stereoscopic images, computer holography, three-dimensional animation, four-dimensional animation, interactive stereoscopic displays and input devices and, ultimately, three-dimensional force-feedback—the latter becoming a major component of today’s virtual reality. This research and experimentation in computer art was performed during the 1960s. In this article the author reminisces and describes his early work.’

The text describes Noll’s work at Bell Labs between around 1962 until 1972 and notes down all his projects and publications. He states that the reactions towards the exhibition Computer-Generated Pictures with Bela Julesz at the Howard Wise Gallery in 1965 was disappointing and they did not sell a single image. However, the New York Times wrote enthusiastically about the exhibition.

The article was re-printed in “Computer and Graphics” Vol. 19 No. 4 (July 1995) on pp. 495-503.

Year: 1994
Place: Cambridge, MA
Publisher: The MIT Press
URL: (retrieved: 2011-11-05)
Journal: Leonardo
Volume: 27
Pages: 39-44
Events referred to: Computer-Generated Pictures


This is a mp3 file of a speech based on the article The Beginnings of Computer Art in the United States: A Memoir held by Noll, A. Michael in 2004 at the symposion “Stuttgart 1960.Computer in Theorie und Kunst” at Akademie Schloss Solitude

PDF: noll_memoir.pdf (1.2 MB)