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1 The History of BRL-CAD
4 WARNING ** NOTICE ** WARNING ** NOTICE ** WARNING ** NOTICE
6 This information contained in this file is retained entirely for
7 historic reference until someone gets around to writing up a proper
8 "history" of BRL-CAD. The numbers, features, and requirements quoted
9 below were true when they are written but are very much no longer true
10 today. Do not rely on any information contained in this file.
12 WARNING ** NOTICE ** WARNING ** NOTICE ** WARNING ** NOTICE
15 The BRL-CAD PACKAGE
16 Short Summary
18 In FY87 two major releases of the BRL-CAD Package software were
19 made (Feb-87, July-87), along with two editions of the associated
20 400 page manual. The package includes a powerful solid modeling
21 capability and a network-distributed image-processing capability.
22 This software is now running at over 300 sites. It has been
23 distributed to 42 academic institutions in twenty states and four
24 countries including Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, USC, and UCLA.
25 The University of California - San Diego is using the package for
26 rendering brains in their Brain Mapping Project at the
27 Quantitative Morphology Laboratory. 75 different businesses have
28 requested and received the software including 23 Fortune 500
29 companies including: General Motors, AT&T, Chrysler Motors
30 Corporation, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed, General
31 Dynamics, LTV Aerospace & Defense Co., and Hewlett Packard. 16
32 government organizations representing all three services, NSA,
33 NASA, NBS and the Veterans Administration are running the code.
34 Three of the four national laboratories have copies of the BRL
35 CAD package. More than 500 copies of the manual have been
38 BRL-CAD started in 1979 as a task to provide an interactive
39 graphics editor for the BRL target description data base.
41 Today it is > 100,00 lines of C source code:
43 Solid geometric editor
44 Ray tracing utilities
45 Lighting model
46 Many image-handling, data-comparison, and other
47 supporting utilities
49 It runs under UNIX and is supported over more than a dozen product
50 lines from Sun Workstations to the Cray 2.
52 In terms of geometrical representation of data, BRL-CAD supports:
54 the original Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) BRL data
55 base which has been used to model > 150 target descriptions,
56 domestic and foreign
58 extensions to include both a Naval Academy spline
59 (Uniform B-Spline Surface) as well as a U. of
60 Utah spline (Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline [NURB] Surface)
61 developed under NSF and DARPA sponsorship
63 a faceted data representation, (called PATCH),
64 developed by Falcon/Denver
65 Research Institute and used by the Navy and Air Force for
66 vulnerability and signature calculations (> 200 target
67 descriptions, domestic and foreign)
69 It supports association of material (and other attribute properties)
70 with geometry which is critical to subsequent applications codes.
72 It supports a set of extensible interfaces by means of which geometry
73 (and attribute data) are passed to applications:
75 Ray casting
76 Topological representation
77 3-D Surface Mesh Generation
78 3-D Volume Mesh Generation
79 Analytic (Homogeneous Spline) representation
81 Applications linked to BRL-CAD:
83 o Weights and Moments-of-Inertia
84 o An array of Vulnerability/Lethality Codes
85 o Neutron Transport Code
86 o Optical Image Generation (including specular/diffuse reflection,
87 refraction, and multiple light sources, animation, interference)
88 o Bistatic laser target designation analysis
89 o A number of Infrared Signature Codes
90 o A number of Synthetic Aperture Radar Codes (including codes
91 due to ERIM and Northrop)
92 o Acoustic model predictions
93 o High-Energy Laser Damage
94 o High-Power Microwave Damage
95 o Link to PATRAN [TM] and hence to ADINA, EPIC-2, NASTRAN, etc.
96 for structural/stress analysis
97 o X-Ray calculation
99 BRL-CAD source code has been distributed to approximately 300
100 computer sites, several dozen outside the US.
102 With the addition of the PATCH geometry, requested and funded by the JTCG,
103 the BRL-CAD environment will provide the superset environment of the
104 combined Army/Navy/Air-Force vulnerability communities.
106 The BRL is now working with the Intelligence Community (led by the CIA)
107 to provide a uniform geometry/attribute/interface capability
108 together with a large library of target descriptions to support
109 the ATR and exploitation community. A super-set of the current
110 BRL-CAD environment is the leading candidate for that role.
115 To obtain a copy of the BRL-CAD Package distribution, you must send
116 enough magnetic tape for 20 Mbytes of data. Standard nine-track
117 half-inch magtape is the strongly preferred format, and can be written
118 at either 1600 or 6250 bpi, in TAR format with 10k byte records. For
119 sites with no half-inch tape drives, Silicon Graphics and SUN tape
120 cartridges can also be accommodated. With your tape, you must also
121 enclose a letter indicating
123 (a) who you are,
124 (b) what the BRL-CAD package is to be used for,
125 (c) the equipment and operating system(s) you plan on using,
126 (d) that you agree to the conditions listed below.
128 This software is an unpublished work that is not generally available to
129 the public, except through the terms of this limited distribution.
130 The United States Department of the Army grants a royalty-free,
131 nonexclusive, nontransferable license and right to use, free of charge,
132 with the following terms and conditions.
137 BRL-CAD was principally architected and started by the late Mike Muuss
138 after something of a dare in 1979. Earl Weaver (also of BRL at the
139 time) bet Muuss that he couldn't display the XM-1 tank design (a
140 prototype for the M1 Abrams) on a new graphical display terminal that
141 had just been acquired. About 48 hours later, Mike had the display up
142 and drawing a wireframe model. Within a day after that, military
143 generals were being flown in and escorted into the research lab to see
144 the design of the new tank. It was the first time anyone had ever
145 "seen" the new design outside of some drawings.
147 In 1972 plans for a new tank were decided on, and development
148 contracts were awarded in 1973. In November 1976 the Chrysler
149 prototype was selected to enter Full Scale Engineering Development
150 with Chrysler being awarded a three year US$196.2 million contract to
151 build 11 XM1 pilot vehicles, the first of which was completed in
152 February 1978. "Designed in the 1970's by the Land Systems Division of
153 the General Dynamics Corporation in response to the U.S. Army's MBT-70
154 program, the first M1 rolled off the assembly line in 1978. After two
155 years of acceptance trials, the first of these vehicles was delivered
156 to the US Army on February 28, 1980."  The XM1 was accepted for
157 full production in February 1981 and named after General Creighton
158 W. Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and a battalion commander of the
159 37th Armored Battalion of the 4th Armoured Division during World War
160 2, and a key supporter of the XM1 programme.
162 Development on BRL-CAD as a package subsequently began in 1983; the
163 first public release was made in 1984. BRL-CAD became an open source
164 project on 21 December 2004. BRL-CAD now continues to be developed
165 and maintained by a core community of open source developers ever