20 Years of 3ds Max

Twenty years ago, Autodesk 3ds Max software – then known as 3D Studio DOS – was launched as one of the first affordable 3D modelling, rendering and animation systems for the PC. Since then, Autodesk has continued to introduce innovative features to empower users in pushing the boundaries of digital entertainment and design visualisation.

Lara Croft

Lara Croft courtesy of Ex Machina / Core Design Ltd.

Initially developed by the Yost Group for Autodesk, the first version – 3D Studio DOS r1 – shipped in October 1990, priced at a fraction of the cost of the dedicated workstations then required to create professional 3D animation.

The software has since been used to help create Oscar-winning movies, record-setting video games and Emmy-winning television content. Notable entertainment projects include movies “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “The Hurt Locker”; video games “The Sims” “World of Warcraft” and “Halo”; and television content from the Dancing Baby featured on “Ally McBeal” to Oceanic flight 815’s crash onto the island in “Lost” and the Emmy award-winning opening sequences of Super Bowls XXXIII and XXXVI.


Gopher Broke © Blur

The software has also been used by architects, engineers and designers to help visualise designs before they are built enabling them to make more informed decisions, communicate the story behind their designs and win more business. Some high-profile projects visualised with 3ds Max are One World Trade Center, the Dallas Cowboys stadium and the Las Vegas Sands Macau Hotel and Casino.

Assassins Creed artwork

Assassins Creed © Ubisoft

“It is incredible to see how far computer graphics have come over the last two decades and thrilling to think of what will be possible in another 20 years,” said Marc Petit, Autodesk senior vice president, Media & Entertainment. “Today 3ds Max – used with our other Digital Entertainment Creation and design tools – is helping hundreds of thousands of 3D artists unleash their creativity and work more productively. Our development teams will continue to look to the future, so that what is not possible today may be possible soon.”

Hellgate character

Hellgate London © Blur

Autodesk has launched a 3ds Max microsite on the AREA – its online digital entertainment and visualisation community – to kick off celebrations of the 20th anniversary. The site includes an interactive historical timeline, an image gallery showcasing 3ds Max art by users from around the world, a trivia game and a forum where users can post a wish for 3ds Max. Content on the site will be updated regularly and will soon include downloadable 3ds Max screensavers.

View more work featuring 3ds Max on Fired By Design

Visit the microsite

Test your knowledge of 3ds Max

See more information about Autodesk


Autodesk has created a gallery of work to celebrate the 20 years of 3ds Max

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