BUGS (Brown University Graphics System)

The initial configuration of BUGS, built by van Dam's graphics group, became operational in mid-'71. It consisted of a pair of Digital Scien tific Meta4 processors and a Vector General vector-graphics display and was augmented with Simale (Super-Integral Microprogrammable Arithmetic and Logic Expediter) in '75. Simale, designed and built by former undergraduate Harold Webber, had a four-processor 18-bit SIMD architecture-each processor had a 38-nanosecond cycle time for an effective peak performance of 105 MIPS. It supported real-time 3D and 4D vector graphics with matrix transformations, clipping, and dynamic level-of-detail management, and it was distinguished by never having a hardware failure in its seven-year lifetime-it was taken down only to replace light bulbs. Simale currently rests in the department's computer museum. BUGS was originally installed in the University Computer Center at 180 George St. It was connected to the 360/67 via RPC used for dynamic division of labor experiments between the mainframe host and the graphics satellite. We believe this was the first published use of RPC. When we moved to the new building (Kassar House at 151 Thayer Street) in May '79, BUGS moved to the basement, along with Nancy. Its tenth birthday was celebrated in the summer of '81 (those dealing with the VAX were explicitly not invited). It was decommissioned in early '82 when it became clear that there was no future in vector graphics and when work on the extension to 151 Thayer Street (Gould Lab) made part of the basement unusable. 

Thanks to the efforts of Brown CS alum Paul Anagnostopoulos, a number of BUGS documents are available in PDF form below. You can find other artifacts of our history at the Brown CS Digital Archive, where we invite you to submit items of your own!