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Blender’s History

In 1988 Ton Roosendaal co-founded the Dutch animation studio NeoGeo. NeoGeo quickly became the largest 3D animation studio in the Netherlands and one of the leading animation houses in Europe. NeoGeo created award-winning productions (European Corporate Video Awards 1993 and 1995) for large corporate clients such as multi-national electronics company Philips. Within NeoGeo Ton was responsible for both art direction and internal software development. After careful deliberation Ton decided that the current in-house 3D tool set for NeoGeo was too old and cumbersome to maintain and upgrade and needed to be rewritten from scratch. In 1995 this rewrite began and was destined to become the 3D software creation we all know as Blender. As NeoGeo continued to refine and improve Blender it became apparent to Ton that Blender could be used as a tool for other artists outside of NeoGeo.

In 1998, Ton decided to found a new company called Not a Number (NaN) as a spin-off of NeoGeo to further market and develop Blender. At the core of NaN was a desire to create and distribute a compact, cross platform 3D application for free. At the time this was a revolutionary concept as most commercial modelers cost several thousands of (US) dollars. NaN hoped to bring professional level 3D modeling and animation tools within the reach of the general computing public. NaN’s business model involved providing commercial products and services around Blender. In 1999 NaN attended its first Siggraph conference in an effort to more widely promote Blender. Blender’s first Siggraph convention was a huge success and gathered a tremendous amount of interest from both the press and attendees. Blender was a hit and its huge potential confirmed!

Following the success of the Siggraph conference in early 2000, NaN secured financing of €4.5m from venture capitalists. This large inflow of cash enabled NaN to rapidly expand its operations. Soon NaN boasted as many as fifty employees working around the world trying to improve and promote Blender. In the summer of 2000, Blender v2.0 was released. This version of Blender added the integration of a game engine to the 3D application. By the end of 2000, the number of users registered on the NaN website surpassed 250,000.

Unfortunately, NaN’s ambitions and opportunities didn’t match the company’s capabilities and the market realities of the time. This over-extension resulted in restarting NaN with new investor funding and a smaller company in April 2001. Six months later NaN’s first commercial software product, Blender Publisher was launched. This product was targeted at the emerging market of interactive web-based 3D media. Due to disappointing sales and the ongoing difficult economic climate, the new investors decided to shut down all NaN operations. The shutdown also included discontinuing the development of Blender. Although there were clearly shortcomings in the then current version of Blender, such as a complex internal software architecture, unfinished features and a non-standard way of providing the GUI, the enthusiastic support from the user community and customers who had purchased Blender Publisher in the past meant that Ton couldn’t justify leaving Blender to fade into insignificance. Since restarting a company with a sufficiently large team of developers wasn’t feasible, Ton Roosendaal founded the non-profit organization Blender Foundation in March 2002.

The Blender Foundation’s primary goal was to find a way to continue developing and promoting Blender as a community-based Open Source project. In July 2002, Ton managed to get the NaN investors to agree to a unique Blender Foundation plan to attempt to release Blender as open source. With an enthusiastic group of volunteers, among them several ex-NaN employees, a fund raising campaign was launched to “Free Blender”. To everyone’s surprise and delight the campaign reached the €100,000 goal in only seven short weeks. Thence the Foundation could buy the rights to the Blender source code and intellectual property rights from the NaN investors and subsequently release Blender to the open source community under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) on Sunday October 13, 2002. Blender development continues to this day driven by a team of far-flung, dedicated volunteers from around the world led by Blender’s original creator, Ton Roosendaal.

Video: From Blender 1.60 to 2.50

Version/Revision Milestones

Blender3D FreeTip.png
Release Notes
To see release notes for each version, you can click on the version number.
  • From 1.00 to 2.30, there are no more links for release notes;
  • From 2.30 to 2.40, you can find release notes only at Blender Release Notes;
  • From version 2.40 and up, the release notes are located at the Developers space in our wiki and at the Blender Release Notes

Blender’s history and road-map:

The start !

  • 1.00 – January 1995: Blender in development at animation studio NeoGeo.
  • 1.23 – January 1998: SGI version published on the web, IrisGL.
  • 1.30 – April 1998: Linux and FreeBSD version, port to OpenGL and X11.
  • 1.3x – June 1998: NaN founded.
  • 1.4x – September 1998: Sun and Linux Alpha version released.
  • 1.50 – November 1998: First Manual published.
  • 1.60 – April 1999: C-key (new features behind a lock, $95), Windows version released.
  • 1.6x – June 1999: BeOS and PPC version released.
  • 1.80 – June 2000: End of C-key, Blender full freeware again.

Blender 2.0

  • 2.00 – August 2000: Interactive 3D and real-time engine.
  • 2.10 – December 2000: New engine, physics, and Python.
  • 2.20 – August 2001: Character animation system.
  • 2.21 – October 2001: Blender Publisher launch.
  • 2.2x – December 2001: Mac OSX version.

Blender goes Open Source

  • 13 October 2002: Blender goes Open Source, 1st Blender Conference.
  • 2.25 – October 2002: Blender Publisher becomes freely available.
  • Tuhopuu1 – Oct 2002: The experimental tree of Blender is created, a coder’s playground.
  • 2.26 – February 2003: The first true Open Source Blender.
  • 2.27 – May 2003: The second Open Source Blender.
  • 2.28x – July 2003: First of the 2.28x series.
  • 2.30 – October 2003: Preview release of the 2.3x UI makeover presented at the 2nd Blender Conference.
  • 2.31 – December 2003: Upgrade to stable 2.3x UI project.
  • 2.32 – January 2004: Major overhaul of internal rendering capabilities.
  • 2.33 – April 2004: Game Engine returns, ambient occlusion, new procedural textures.
  • 2.34 – August 2004: Big improvements: particle interactions, LSCM UV mapping, functional YafRay integration, weighted creases in subdivision surfaces, ramp shaders, full OSA, and many many more.
  • 2.35 – November 2004: Another version full of improvements: object hooks, curve deforms and curve tapers, particle duplicators and much more.
  • 2.36 – December 2004: A stabilization version, much work behind the scene, normal and displacement mapping improvements.

A Big Leap

  • 2.37 – June 2005: A big leap: transformation tools and widgets, softbodies, force fields, deflections, incremental subdivision surfaces, transparent shadows, and multithreaded rendering.
  • 2.40 – December 2005: An even bigger leap: full rework of armature system, shape keys, fur with particles, fluids and rigid bodies.
  • 2.41 – January 2006: Lots of fixes, and some game engine features.
  • 2.42 – July 2006: The Node release. Over 50 developers contributed nodes, array modifier, vector blur, new physics engine, rendering, lipsync and, many other features. This was the release following Project Orange.
  • 2.43 – February 2007: The Multi release: multi-resolution meshes, multi-layer UV textures, multi-layer images and multi-pass rendering and baking, sculpting, retopology, multiple additional matte, distort and filter nodes, modeling and animation improvements, better painting with multiple brushes, fluid particles, proxy objects, sequencer rewrite, and post-production UV texturing. whew! Oh, and a website rewrite. And yes, it still has multi-threaded rendering for multi-core CPUs. With Verse it is multi-user, allowing multiple artists to work on the same scene collaboratively. Lastly, render farms still provide multi-workstation distributed rendering.
  • 2.44 – May 2007: The SSS release: the big news, in addition to two new modifiers and re-awakening the 64-bit OS support, was the addition of subsurface scattering, which simulates light scattering beneath the surface of organic and soft objects.
  • 2.45 – September 2007: Another bugfix release: serious bugfixes, with some performance issues addressed.
  • 2.46 – May 2008: The Peach release was the result of a huge effort of over 70 developers providing enhancements to the core and patches to provide hair and fur, a new particle system, enhanced image browsing, cloth, a seamless and non-intrusive physics cache, rendering improvements in reflections, AO, and render baking; a mesh deform modifier for muscles and such, better animation support via armature tools and drawing, skinning, constraints and a colorful Action Editor, and much more. It was the release following Project Peach.
  • 2.47 – August 2008: Bugfix release.
  • 2.48 – October 2008: The Apricot release: cool GLSL shaders, lights and GE improvements, snap, sky simulator, shrinkwrap modifier, python editing improvements.
  • 2.49 – June 2009: The Pre-Re-Factor release added significant enhancements to the core and GE. Core enhancements include node-based textures, armature sketching (called Etch-a-Ton), boolean mesh operation improvements, JPEG2000 support, projection painting for direct transfer of images to models, and a significant Python script catalog. GE enhancements included video textures, where you can play movies in-game (!), upgrades to the Bullet physics engine, dome (fish-eye) rendering, and more API GE calls made available.

Blender 2.5 - The Recode !

  • 2.5x – From 2009 to August 2011. This series release 4 pre-version (from Alpha0 - November 2009 - to Beta July 2010) and three stable versions (from 2.57 - April 2011 - to 2.59 - August 2011). It is one of the most important development project of blender with a total re-coding of the software with new functions, redesign of internal window manager and event/tool/data handling system, new python API... The final version of this project was Blender 2.59 in August 2011.
  • 2.60 – October 2011: Internationalization of the UI, 3D Audio and Video. This release incorporates improvements in Animation System and Game Engine, Vertex Weight Groups Modifiers, 3D Audio and Video, Bug Fixes, and the UI Internationalization (Garlic Branch merged into trunk).
  • 2.61 – December 2011: Camera Track, Ocean Simulation, Cycles Render Engine, Dynamic Paint. The new Cycles Render Engine is now added in the Blender default installation, also Camera Tracking for mixing footages with 3D, Dynamic Paint for modifying Textures with Mesh contact/approximation, the Ocean Simulation is a new Modifier to simulate Ocean and Foam (Ported from the open source Houdini Ocean Toolkit), New Addons, Bug Fixes, and more extensions added for the Python API.
  • 2.62 - February 2012: Carve Booleans, Motion Tracking, Remesh Modifier. The Carve library is now added to improve results when performing Boolean operations, Blender now support Motion Tracking for object movements in the Scene, the Remesh Modifier generate new topology using an input Mesh as a base, many improvements in Game Engine, Collada, Bump Mapping, Dynamic Paint, UV Tools, Cycles Render Engine, Matrices and Vectors in Python API were improved, New Addons, and many bugs were fixed.

2.63 - Bmesh - Blender with N-gons

2.64 - The Open Source VFX release

  • 2.64 - October 2012: Mask Editor, Improved Motion Tracker, Opencolor IO, Cycles Render improvements, Sequencer improvements, better Mesh Tools (Inset and Bevel were improved), new Compositing Nodes for Green Screen, Sculpt Masking, Collada improvements for Game Engines, New Skin Modifier, new compositing Nodes Backend, and many bugs were fixed.

2.65 - Continuous Improvements

2.66 - Dynamic Topology, Rigid Body Simulation

  • 2.66 - February 2013: Dynamic Topology Sculpting, Rigid Body Simulation, improvements in UI and usability (including Mac new 'Retina Display' support), Cycles Render now supports hair, Improvements in image transparency, the bevel tool now supports individual vertex bevelling, new Mesh Cache Modifier and the new UV Warp Modifier, a new SPH particle fluid solver was added to calculate fluid dynamics, improvements in game engine and collada, support for vertex colors bake, more efficient ambient occlusion baking for multires meshes, edge based UV stitching, more control over mapping texture brushes for texture painting, gradient tools for weight painting, and a translate node for the compositor. A New Addon for MilkShape 3D format support and EDL Video Import. More than 250 bugs that existed in previous versions have been fixed, resulting on a 2.66a release!

2.67 - Freestyle, 3d printing

2.68 - Continuous Improvements

  • 2.68 - July 2013: New and improved modelling tools: Rewritten bridge tool, grid fill, improvements to proportional editing mode, snap to symmetry, dissolve, vertex connect, Cycles Rendering improved with three new nodes: Wavelength, Toon BSDF, Wireframe node, and with new render passes and changes in ray visibility, new closures in Open Shading Language added, big improvements in Motion Tracker (reconstructed scene ambiguity, added scene orientation and refining markers position, added automatic keyframe selection), physics improvements: added the ability to generate particles on meshes changed by stack of modifiers, new options added to smoke simulations (subframes and full sampling), improved usability, Python Security, two new addons added, and over 280 bugfixes.

2.69 - Continuous Improvements

  • 2.69 - October 2013: New and improved modelling tools: Hidden Wire Display for retopology, Bridge, Edgenet Fill, Bisect, Grid Fill, Symmetrize, Curve and Lattice editing tools, Cycles Rendering improved in many areas: bumpmapping for SSS, Branched Path Trace Integrator is available for CPU, Hosek/Wilkie Sky model, new nodes for Cycles: Hair BSDF, Ray Depth, Blackbody, Vector Transform, Combine/Separate HSV, new options for Mapping node, improved usability of Cycles UI, new additions to tone mapping, Plane Tracking added to Motion Tracker, numerous small features were added with improvements for vertex parenting, constrains, mask editing, texture painting, animation, empty objects, images, UI lists, viewport roll, BGE, addons, better support for FBX import/export, and over 270 bugs fixed.