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Simple GUI windowing system used in the MIT Media Lab Visible Language Workshop from ~1986-1992. Ran on HP 9000 "Bobcat" workstations running HP-UX and using the Starbase graphic library.
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BadWindows was a simple graphics windowing system I wrote as a UROP in the MIT Media Lab’s Visible Language Workshop. I’m not sure exactly when I started it, but it was probably in the summer or fall of 1986 as I was starting my sophomore year. The HP 9000 Unix workstations at the lab were amazing machines at the time — 24 bit color graphics blew my mind coming from the Apple II. The Starbase graphics library had commands for drawing rectangles and lines, and it even had 3D graphics support, but it didn’t really have a windowing system. I ended up writing this just to be able to make the paint and animation programs I wanted to make. Over time more and more pieces were added, including antialiased fonts and more sophisticated function handling for window interactions. Fellow student and housemate David Small also added various things as I recall, as did some of the other VLW grads over the years. I used this to write the animation program used to make my first film “Beat Dedication”. I expanded/rewrote the program to support hand-drawn animation for the film I made with Mike McKenna in 1990, “Grinning Evil Death”. Those two programs were probably the most prominent use of BadWindows for me personally, although I used it for various class projects and demos as well. Eventually some of the lab’s other researchers started using it for rapid prototyping for some of their projects, and the library grew in size. When I left the Media Lab in 1991, for a short time I did contract work for John Whitney Jr of USAnimation. He traded me one of the HP Bobcat workstations in exchange for my animation software, which he used to do ink and paint on commercials as well as some digital tests for Ren & Stimpy and other shows. With my own HP Bobcat I was able to keep using my software outside of the lab. I moved to Austin in 1994 and used it to make my film “God’s Little Monkey.” The End.