It started in 1990(?). One day I walked into Will Schroeder's office and said "I think we should write a text book on visualization algorithms and architectures."
Will looked up and said, "you won't believe this, but Ken and I have been talking about writing a book on visualization."
I first met Will Schroeder when he was working in GE's downtown Schenectady, NY turbine facility. Will worked as an engineer in the Turbine division with Bob Zirin. Bob was an engineer that I met when I first came to CRD. I hooked up early with local GE engineers because I had done finite element analysis, pre and post-processing when I worked at the Watervliet Arsenal's Benet Weapons Laboratory. At GE, I had written some software called Tones, that produced color shaded images of finite element results. Tones took output from the Movie.BYU program and displayed images on the Lexidata frame buffer<ref>In the late 1970's through the mid 1980's color, shaded images were displayed on color monitors driven by frame buffers. These frame buffers were attached via DMA to mini-computers like the Vax 11/780.</ref>. Tones had a crude scripting language and I could do limited playback of animations produced by Movie.BYU. Tones also controlled a Matrix camera that shot 16mm film one frame at a time. The Matrix camera had a small, flat black and white display. The camera was attached to the output signal of the framebuffer and could be controlled via a serial interface. Once loaded, the camera advanced the film, displayed the red portion of the image, rotated a red color wheel between the display and the camera and exposed the film. This was repeated for the green and blue portions of the image. Using Tones, we could make animated films. I was using the Tones/Matrix combination to show animations of vibrating structures, carpet plots, series stress analysis and general animation of cameras.
Bob Zirin supplied me with lots of real world examples from power generation and I soon started producing stills and animations. Will visited the Graphics Lab<ref>Shortly after I arrived at CRD, Bob Saltzman scavenged a framebuffer from an old Computed Tomography console. Bob wrote a VAX/VMS driver for it and we had our first public graphics monitor. Soon we purchased an Evans and Sutherland PS/300 and made it available to everyone in our 'Graphics Lab'. Over the years we had several, the last one being the 'Viz Lab'. The 'Viz Lab' hosted hundreds of tours over the years and gave our group great exposure inside and outside of CRD.</ref> one day. Will asked for a copy of Tones and he began making his own animations and used our equipment to produce the films. A few years later, Will joined CRD in the Solid Mechanics Group. Eventually, he moved into our graphics group, Computer Graphics and Systems Program (CGSP). Will moved into the group shortly after we had created our first version of Oscar, the Object-oriented Scene AnimatoR. As a new initiate, Will's first major project in CGSP was to build a scientific visualization system that was eventually called Visage(pdf). Visage was built using Oscar . Will and a few others in our group added a large number of classes to support the then emerging field of scientific visualization. Will and Chris Volpe introduced the notion of a pipeline into Oscar.
Oscar(LYMB) and Visage were the starting points for VTK.