IBM UKSC history

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Archive of various tools by the IBM United Kingdom Scientific Centre from 1980's

many others, to follow

The IBM United Kingdom Scientific Centre in Winchester over the 1980's had two complementary groups devoted to visualization; graphics and image processing.  We had a strong emphasis on applications, working with various external partners (including Michael Sternberg).  For the graphics group the applications included molecular graphics, archaeology and computer art; the image group was mainly dedicated to medical imaging.  There were a few cross-over projects, for example the creation of a 'beating heart' movie .  The tools we used are no longer available and are included here for historical and archive purposes.

The graphics groups had serveral main tools

  • Winchester Graphics System (WGS) was used for data exploration; it combined relational database technology and interactive 3d graphics with an bridge between the two and scripting.
  • Winchester Solid Modeller (WINSOM) was used for more advanced graphical visualizations.  It combined constructive solid geometry (CSG) with novel methods for blending (e.g. metaballs) and representations of molecular fields.
  • FASTDRAW, which converted the same CSG/field models to polygon for for interactive 3d display.
  • Extensible Solid Model Editor (ESME), for more powerful graphics programming, integrated with generation of WINSOM/FASTDRAW models.

The image processing group had a single tool

  • IAX which incorporated many image processing techniques (some novel) within a simple scriptable framework.  This performed 2d and 3d image analysis, with 3d recognition often passed to Winsom for final display.

The groups had a demonstration prepared for presentation to our visitors.  I have recovered much of this, in particular the still images, and recast it as a web page which is currently available at  The content was biased toward the graphics group.  Much of the content cannot be displayed, especially the movies (which I hope to preapare in suitable format soon) and the interactive 3d work (which may never be recreated).

The Journal of Molecular Graphics was founded by Andy Morffew, a member of the group;  you may see a disproportionate number of our papers in the early volumes.

Some of the work continues to this day.  William Latham and I are presenting exhibitions of interactive 3d art (one in Norwich in Autumn 2016).  We have a modern version of FASTDRAW (in C#/Unity) which is being used as part of BioBlox, and which I hope to release as open source soon.  There is also a Java version which FoldSynth uses for metaballs.



Release Date:
December, 2015
Data type:
2D, 3D, Dynamic mapping, Geospatial representation, Spatial representation, Temporal animation
relational database, constructive solid geometry (extended), image processing
PL/I, Pascal, REXX

Project development

Institution: IBM United Kingdom Scientific Centre