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How Blender Started?

The Blender 3D creation suite is available for free and open source. It helps with every step of the 3D production process, including modelling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing, motion tracking, and even video editing and game development. Blender's advanced users make advantage of its Application Programming Interface (API) for Python scripting to extend its functionality and create new tools, many of which find their way into subsequent Blender releases. Blender's unified pipeline and reactive development approach make it ideal for individuals and small studios.


Roosendaal studied Industrial Design in Eindhoven, before founding the animation studio "NeoGeo" in 1989. It quickly became the largest 3D animation studio in the Netherlands. At NeoGeo, Roosendaal was responsible for software development, in 1989 he wrote a ray tracer called Traces for Amiga and in 1995 he decided to start the development of an in-house software tool for 3D animation, based on the Traces and tools that NeoGeo had already written. This tool was later named "Blender".

In January 1998, a free version of Blender was released on the internet, followed by versions for Linux and FreeBSD in April. Shortly after that, NeoGeo was taken over by another company in parts.

This was when Ton Roosendaal and Frank van Beek decided to found a company called Not a Number (NaN) to further market and develop Blender. NaN's business model involved providing commercial products and services around Blender. In 2000 the company secured growth financing by several investment companies. The target of this was to create a free creation tool for interactive 3D (online) content, and commercial versions of the software for distribution and publishing. Roosendaal moved to Amsterdam in 2002.


Roosendaal put all his money into a Silicon Graphics workstation. This $30,000 machine was the inspiration for Blender 1.0. The first Blender was released in January 1995, and it had some cutting-edge concepts for its time, such as a single window that could be subdivided in any way the user saw fit.

Many businesses at the time saw no commercial potential in 3D. The "wonderful capacity to create a full world in a computer," as Roosendaal puts it, is what drew him in.

Therefore, after NeoGeo's demise, he and business partner Frank van Beek established a new firm to forward Blender's development and promote it to a wider audience. Blender was released by Not a Number (NaN) in June 1998, using a freemium pricing model in which the base programme could be downloaded for free but NaN monetized additional features by selling licence keys.

What is Open Source and Why blender Choose to be Open Source?

NaN was able to attend the SIGGRAPH computer graphics and entertainment conference in Los Angeles because of this business strategy (Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques). Because of this, Blender was able to secure $5.5 million over two fundraising rounds. Despite the funding, NaN shut down in early 2002 due to the severe economic conditions, wasteful expenditure, and strained relationships between the company and its backers.

NaN's collapse halted further advancement of Blender. If Roosendaal had been able to buy the rights from NaN's investors, he would have done so. Towards the end of May of 2002, he established a charitable organisation called the Blender Foundation with the stated goal of making Blender freely available to the public. His goal was to build a public shrine to Blender that everyone who participated in the Blender project could use to showcase their talents. Free Blender, the first crowdfunding campaign, was launched in July of that year. The Blender Foundation was able to gather €110,000 (about $135,000) in just seven weeks, thanks to Blender's community of 250k users. This was enough to buy back Blender from its investors.

Blender was first made available to the public on October 13, 2002, and it is licenced under the GNU General Public License, the most stringent open-source agreement. The Blender Foundation has committed to making Blender and its source code available without charge, forever, and in whatever way they see fit.

Blender: Present And Future

In total, the Blender organization numbers some twenty-eight employees, working from Amsterdam, remotely, and on a grant basis. For Blender, this team represents only a small part of a much wider community, which it defines as everyone who contributes to Blender’s development, earns their living from Blender, or simply downloads it.

The Blender mission can be summed up as “get the world’s best 3d technology in the hands of artists as open-source, and make amazing things with it.”

Going forward, Blender hopes to become a sustainable, future proof organization, dedicated to furthering its open-source philosophy, its values of curiosity and innovation, a commitment to technical excellence, and increasingly ambitious creative goals.


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