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Stereogram History

In a nutshell, there are three major milestones in the developmentn of today's single image random dot stereogram (SIRDS):

  1. Two Image Sterescope
    where 2 side-by-side images are used to create a 3D effect (Wheatsone 1833)
  2. Two Image Random Dot Stereogram
    where 2 side-by-side random dot images are used to create a 3D effect (JUlesz 1959)
  3. Single Image Random Dot Stereogram
    where a single image of random dots is shown to contain 3D information (Tyler/Clarke 1970)

Here's a picture of an early stereoscope, showing how two different pictures were used. The stereoscope focusses one eye on each picture so that the brain will fuse the two together to give the 3D effect.

Along the way, the names of the images have evolved. Here's a sampling of the terminology that, for the most part, industry has adopted.

  1. Stereoscope
    the device used to hold two side-by-side pictures which give a 3D effect
  2. Anaglyphs
    containing two overlaid images, each with a different color, which gives 3D effects when viewed with glasses having different colored lens over each eye (corresponding to the colors use to create the image)
  3. Autostereogram
    a single image containing the information from two images
  4. SIRDS
    Single Image Random Dot Stereogram - where the image consists of seemingly random dots, either black/white or random colors
  5. SIRTS
    Single Image Random Text Stereogram - where the image consists of seemingly random letters or symbols rather than dots
  6. SIS
    Single Image Stereogram - where the image consists of a small, repeating background image (sometimes called a tile or texture)

Of course, like any technical development there are many details needed to tell the story. Here's a timeline many of the events and people involved in the history of the SIRDS.

  1. 1833 - Sir Charles Wheatstone
    invents stereoscope using mirrors to allow seeing a 3D images from two 2D pictures
  2. 1844 - Sir David Brewster
    improved the Wheatstone stereoscope by using lenses instead of mirrors. noticed that staring at repeated patterns in wallpapers create 3D effects
  3. 1959 - Bela Julesz
    discovered the two image random-dot stereogram
  4. 1971 - Bela Julesz
    "Foundations of Cyclopean Perception" (book)
  5. 1979 - Christopher Tyler / Clarke
    discovered the single image random-dot stereogram (used computer to generate the images)
  6. 1990 - Harold Thimbleby, Stuart Inglis, Ian H. Witten
    published improved, symmetrical algorithm in "Displaying 3d Images: Stereogram Algorithms for Single Image Random Dot Stereograms,"
  7. 1992 - Andrew Kinsman
    "Random Dot Stereograms" (book)
  8. 1992-1995 - Commercial Enterprises
    NE Thing, NVision, Magic Eye
  9. 1995 - Dan Richardson
    "Create Stereograms on your PC" (book)
  10. 1996 - Watkins, Mallette
    "Stereogram Programming Techniques" (book)