We requested a similar device for the LARC and it was delivered. We equipped the LARC with a sprocketed film magazine that was fast and precise. This allowed the production of black and white movies. An early production code on the LARC computed a general circulation weather model. Chuck Leith, of Livermore, wrote a general circulation program for the LARC and programmed the LARC to draw isobars. He gave a talk and showed his movies before a group of weather modelers. Someone in the audience remarked that the jet stream was plainly visible in the movies. It had been thought that more physics was needed to produce the jet stream. The other weather modelers soon acquired computer graphic output.
A commercial machine called the “Houston Fearless” would take a strip of film and “color mix” it onto color film. Every third frame of the input strip would be exposed thru a filter of the same color. Each color frame would be exposed to three of the input frames each thru a different color filter, producing color movies.
By all obvious accounting methods color movies were the cheapest way to extract information from the computer for human consumption. They complemented and partly displaced traditional printing numbers on reams of paper. Most movies were not color. There was an owl shift that would produce movies from over-night computer runs.
There were then U.S. government budget office restrictions on buying computer equipment. Those restrictions generally forbad such frivolous things as graphic output. Livermore had been buying computer equipment since before that office had been established and out politics was good enough that we could ignore those rules.
Our first computer from Digital Equipment Corporation was the PDP-1. It was an 18 bit computer and each PDP-1 came with a CRT. We programmed the PDP-1 to do a variety of image tasks. The PDP-1 had a light pen which was used for a number of early graphical input ideas. Some were used in production. See this for a great deal more information of Livermore’s use of the PDP-1.
A few years later Livermore acquired a machine from Stromberg Carlson which used a charactron to produce an image on a Xerographic drum which was then transferred to paper and then heated to fuse the ‘toner’.
The CalComp plotter arrived at Livermore in the late 50’s. This produced 30 inch by many inch drawings with a drum upon which the paper was wrapped, and a pen. Both the drum and pen were moved by a stepping motor that took individual step instructions from a mag tape. The plotter was fairly slow (300 steps/sec; 100 steps per inch) but it was reliable and good for short turn-around jobs. It was also low cost and high accuracy.