"A time capsule of a time capsule from the dawn of computer animation"

I do like a bit of early computer animation. Here’s a MeFi post and thread about a particular anthology:

From the very substantial and link-rich head post:

For some context on the scope of the project, YouTuber SSystem Seven describes the astonishing effort and thought that went into just one segment, Quest: A Long Ray’s Journey into Light:

This Film is Extraordinary and although you can generate such work on a standard PC these days, back in the 1980’s, it was the cutting edge of CGI. It was rendered on a battalion of Apollo Computers, one single frame at a time.

100 systems linked together were used working tirelessly around the clock. The MCP (Master Control Program) would be fed a particular frame to render and then another when that one was finished.

The Entire concept, Ray Tracing and Networking was completely new and innovative and bears notability, given that it took Herculean efforts to see that the system operated smoothly and without error…

Lots of links in the comments too.

(See also Early Computer Animation (and CGI))


I think the earliest animations are ASCII art. If this counts. My favourite was diving. I tried to make a gif but I couldn’t do it easily. (Java script)


There a single frames looking like this

" “+nl+
" \0/”+nl+
" |"+nl+
" |/"+nl+
" .-------. |"+nl+
" |
" /====0=[] "+nl+
" /
" jgs `\~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^",

" "+nl+

" "+nl+
"                      \\0/"+nl+
"                       |_"+nl+
"                       |/"+nl+
"      .-------.        |"+nl+
"      |_______|____________"+nl+
"     /====0=[] "+nl+      
"  __/______/__\\____"+nl+
" jgs               `\\~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^",

" "+nl+

Well, if talking ASCII, there is the old Unix ‘sl’ and ‘rain’ commands…

Demo of ‘sl’ here:


Sadly I can’t find ‘rain’ but I remember it on early SunOS systems - late 80’s or so… It used ASCII animation to display what might have looked like raindrops falling into a puddle making expanding circles…


Package ncurses-examples on Debian has /usr/lib/ncurses/examples/rain as binary. The deb-sources are Debian -- Details of source package ncurses in bullseye, the originbal home is
NCURSES – New Curses.

There probably is a much older non-ncurses version somewhere, but as a start the ncurses version may be ™good enough™.

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I’ll try to clip from my screen:

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Sorry, I mean an animated GIF to watch if offline. But I haven’t searched for it recently. Grabbing tool, converter or the like.

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I managed to get an animated GIF.
I searched for converters ASCII (anim) to GIF (anim) but there are only converters the other way. Maybe some JAVA codes but I want it easy.
I then made a video screen grabbing online (screencapture.com). Kdenlive couldn’t handle webm vids so I converted it online to AVI. Then I cropped it with Kdenlive. Exporting as GIF was poor, some black lines turned yellow. (Too thin/256 color issue?)
So I converted it online (ezgif.com)