The Eric H. Echidna Memorial Home Page
During the period of 1988 to 1998 the Faculty of Engineering at the
University of Melbourne had a
department dedicated to providing support
and addressing the computing needs of the student and staff in the Faculty. The
department no longer exists, and in the last three years of its life
was something of a shell of it former self, as budgeting and various
other problems that have been facing universities in Australia,
resulted in the usual cycle of staff leaving, frustration, and increased
work load (aaah! The glory that was Rome...). However, that is not the reason for this page, during the
"good" times the department also saw the development of a grab bag
of computer graphics libraries and tools, all of which were used by academics,
students, and other parties around the world both in the development
of teaching, pursuing curiosity, and the desire to make pretty pictures.
More interestingly, despite everything, at the time of writing, over 10
years later, people are still using this software!
And to keep it available is the reason for this page.
A few words of note:
we're still interested in improvements, or bugs,
people might find, but otherwise development on these programs has
ceased (sort of...). If you turn up something of interest send mail to
With the exception of VOGL, the software is in the public domain. There
are no restrictions on the use of VOGL, but it is copyright the
University of Melbourne. We accept no liability for anything that
may happen involving the software.
While we wouldn't describe this software as definitive, we learned a
lot from writing it (and had a lot of fun as well). We
hope you get as much out of it as well, whatever you do with it.
The tar files were created using GNU tar - some versions of Solaris tar
may have trouble extracting them.
VOGLE the Very Ordinary Graphics Learning
Environment - a portable 3D graphics library. This doesn't offer things such as
realistic shading and offers only rudimentary hidden surface removal,
however support is provided for a variety of 2D and 3D shapes such as circles,
polygons, and patches and drivers for a variety of devices make creating
plots, diagrams, and images suitable for display, printing, and plotting
straight forward. Incorporates the Hershey font set, a FORTRAN interface, and the ability to turn yobbarays on and off.
The standard edition of VOGLE is K&R C, there is also an ANSI-C version of VOGLE. If you can use the ANSI-C version we recommend it. It has a couple of extra features from the K&R version and it is
certainly easier to work with.
For some screen dumps from VOGLE click here.
The last update of VOGLE was 16 Jul 2000.
VOPL A 2D plotting package written using VOGLE,
incorporates a variety of fits, histogram production, and a basic graph
plotting program. Includes a FORTRAN interface.
The standard edition of VOPL is K&R C, there is also an ANSI-C version of VOPL. If you can use the ANSI-C version we recommend it.
For some screen dumps from VOPL click here.
The last update of VOPL was 17 Oct 1999.
VORT A rendering toolkit. Contains the algebraic
ray tracer Art, which handles algebraic surfaces, CSG modeling, patches,
blobbies, and a few other things, plus some basic image manipulation and display tools and a "world first" 25 bit rendering mode.
For some more details about Art and some sample images click here.
The last update of VORT was 28 Aug 2005.
VOGL A portable Iris GL subset, including the Hershey font set. Mainly for people
wanting a trip down memory lane. With the release of
OpenGL and the similar more public 3d
MESA some time ago this is pretty well
obsolete, people wanting to find out more about portability and graphics
are advised to check out VOGLE, it's more functional and lacks some of
Iris GL's idiosyncrasies (those were the days, my friend, those were the days...).
The hersheyIrisGl.tar.gz is a companion library
for VOGL. It provides the missing Hershey font functions for Iris GL.
Some Other Stuff We Found Useful and Interesting
Just a collection of the old favourites, some historic graphics data, as
well as some other tools that were developed and contributed over the years.
libRT.tar.gz A general purpose ray tracing library, includes a variety of acceleration methods.
preview.c A previewer for NFF (Neutral File Format) files written in VOGLE.
pbm.c, vogle.ppm.c Drivers for generating pbm and ppm files from within VOGLE programs, from John Urban, at Cray Research.
off.tar.gz A collection of OFF format objects (see tar file for details).
chess20.tar.gz A well modeled chess Set (in OFF Format), from Randy Brown at Brown University.
teaspoon.dat Martin Newell's original geometry data for the teapot, plus a teacup, and a teaspoon!
hershey.tar.gz The original Hershey font distribution, just the
glyphs and font tables, with a guide to the format.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions
Some mysteries revealed!
Why Eric H. Echidna?
At the time this project got under way the wife of one of the
developers was working for a library and an article about
a group of European Zoologists who came out to study Australian
native animals happened to cross her desk.
Unfortunately the title of this worthy piece of science is
currently lost, however, by way of summary, we are sad to
report that the intention of the investigation (at least
originally) was to demonstrate that since Australian native
animals are, in a sense, less evolved than their European
counterparts they are also less intelligent.
It happened that one of the animals helping the scientists
in their investigations was an echidna and it was given the
task of learning a maze on the basis of receiving a reward
by pushing a button on a machine at the other end of the
maze. Having demonstrated that it was quite capable of
learning a maze, the scientists were then faced with
finding the answer to the next question. If we take the
food out of the machine how will the echidna react? Will
it be dumb enough to keep running through the maze again and
again? What will it do?
So they took the food out of the machine.
And this is what happened.
The echidna ran through the maze, pushed the button on the
machine, no food came out. The echidna pushed the button
again, again no food came out. It then turned and looked
up at the observers giving them what was described as a
"filthy look" and proceeded not only to destroy the food
dispensing machine, but to introduce the observers to how
one can traverse a maze in a straight line by pushing the
walls down! It is to the memory of this echidna (which
we dubbed Eric H. Echidna), this software is duly dedicated.
You can probably understand why, over the years, Eric has received
much mail, some beer, and been invited to talk at the odd conference!
For a full size picture of Eric click here.
What does the H stand for?
When you're as smart as Eric - Hackenbacker - what else could it be?
I Notice this Software is Beerware, is there Anywhere I can send Beer?
Thanks for the thought. Next time you're out with some friends, you
can drink on behalf of us.
What About the Echidna Image?
The artist was Geoff "Jeff" Hook, if you
want to use it in something, you are most welcome, just acknowledge the artist
and remember to tell people the echidna's name is Eric!
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