Classicamiga Forum Retro Edition
Thread: Caligari and Truespace
Harrison 10:27 3rd September 2009
Who remembers the 3D program Caligari on the Amiga?

In 1985 Roman Ormandy purchased an Amiga 1000 at the Siggraph '85 conference in San Francisco and began work on his vision for a 3D package. Forming the company Octree and previewing his new 3D application Caligari just a year later at the Siggraph '86 conference, finally being released in 1988 as Caligari1.

Roman had a vision to create a 3D package that allowed the user to directly manipulate 3D objects within the user interface, instead of trying to construct and manipulate them in a commandline, as had been the case up until that point. For this reason Caligari was quite a revolutionary 3D application at the time.

Caligari continued to be developed on the Amiga over the years with newer and higher end versions released, such as Caligari Broadcast in 1991, and Caligari24 in 1992, which included advanced features for the time such as 32bit colour, organic deformations and further improvements in the perspective based interface.

Caligari was one of the first 3D programs I used on the Amiga and the one that really got me interested in 3D. Quite confusing to use compared to today's 3D applications, it required me to print out the manual just to get started!

However by 1992 it was becoming clear to Roman that the future standard OS would become Microsoft Windows, so he decided to start work on the successor to Caligari. In 1993 Octree changed its name to Caligari Corporation to retain the legacy of the Amiga application, and in 1994 the PC's successor to Caligari was born, Truespace!

I've been using Truespace off and on for years and it has always been a very easy 3D application to use. Most people can pick it up and create something without too much hassle. It has however remained as an entry level 3D application, generally viewed as one for home and student users, or those only needing less complicated 3D solutions.

The last commercial version of Truespace, version 7.5, was released in 2007 and it received good reviews. However a year later Microsoft purchased Caligari, allowing them to release Truespace 7.6 for free. There were rumours that Microsoft purchased Caligari so that Truespace and its technology could be utilised in new and future products.

However this has all now come to an end. Microsoft recently re-evaluated their portfolio of projects and properties, and have now closed down Caligari, making everyone except for Roman Ormandy redundant. So ending another part of the Amiga's history.

You can read the letter about this from the founder of Caligari here.

The Caligari website is currently still fully up and running, and if you are interested you can still download the full Truespace 7.6 application from the site, along with the manual and supporting files and tutorial videos. It is well worth the download if you are interested in 3D and would like to try some out.

Their site also has a brief history of the company, detailing the Amiga versions of Caligari, and the PC versions of Truespace, along with a page about the founder.

A large corporation, this time Microsoft, again kills a long running smaller pioneer that originated on the Amiga. You have to wonder what their reasons were for buying Caligari last year? Will we still see the technology from Truespace appearing in new products?
Harrison 14:52 30th December 2010
It is true that the big market leaders in 3D had left it behind, but you don't always want a huge industry standard monster of a 3D program when you are just getting started.

Truespace was always a great 3D program for the beginning. It didn't have the huge learning curve most of the others have. Put someone in front of some Softimage software, or 3DSMax, Maya etc and they will probably stare at it, clicking around with the mouse and then give up. Cinema 4D is probably the only mature 3D software that is relatively easy to pickup and use these days, but even that takes some effort.

It is always great to see that Lightwave is still going strong though, and staying faithful to its quirky interface and way of working... the same as it was on the Amiga.