This real-time simulation of a satellite revolving around a simple sphere may be the first computer-generated film.
This film was a specific project to define how a particular type of satellite would move through space. Edward E. Zajac made, and narrated, the film, which is considered to be possibly the very first computer graphics film ever. Zajac programmed the calculations in FORTRAN, then used a program written by Zajac’s colleague, Frank Sinden, called ORBIT. The original computations were fed into the computer via punch cards, then the output was printed onto microfilm using the General Dynamics Electronics Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder. All computer processing was done on an IBM 7090 or 7094 series computer.
There’s a sense of optimism and awe that pervades much of the old footage in the AT&T Archives. If you have a chance, check out some of the other videos—like “Incredible Machine” from 1968.