Graphics Animation System for Professionals

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GRaphic Animation System for Professionals
GRaphic Animation System for Professionals
Developer(s) John Bridges
Operating system DOS
Type Graphics software

Graphics Animation System for Professionals (GRASP) was the first multimedia animation program for the IBM PC family of computers. It was also at one time the most widely used animation format.[1]

Originally conceived by Doug Wolfgram under the name FlashGun, the first public version of GRASP was the Graphical System for Presentation. The original software was written by Doug Wolfgram and Rob Neville. It later became the Graphic Animation System for Professionals. Many regard this as the birth of the multimedia industry.

GRASP - Graphic Animation System for Professionals[edit]

GRASP 1.0[edit]

In 1984 Doug Wolfgram conceived of the idea of an animation scripting language that would allow graphics images to move smoothly across a computer screen under program control. Persyst Systems hired Wolfgram's company to develop some graphics and animation for their new graphics card, the BoB board.[2] The marketing manager from Persyst then moved to AST computer where he brought in Wolfgram to do similar animation work for the AST line of peripheral cards for PCs. 1

Wolfgram saw the growing demand for multimedia so he brought in John Bridges, with whom he had co-developed PCPaint for Mouse Systems in 1982. Together they co-developed the early versions of GRASP for Wolfgram's company, Microtex Industries. Subsequent versions followed. Version 1.10c was released in September 1986.[3]

Starting with John and Doug's source code for PCPaint, the painting aspects were chopped out and instead a simple font editor for Doug's slideshow program FlashGun was created. The graphics library was used to make a simple script playback that had a command for each graphics library function. It also originally used the assembly language fades from FlashGun for a "FADE" command, but those image fade routines were mode specific (CGA) and difficult to enhance. The routines were rewritten along with the script parts. It stored all the files in a ZIB archive, renaming John Bridges' program ZIB to GLIB and the archives it produced were GL files.

GRASP 2.0[edit]

In 1987, GRASP 2.0, was released and no longer distributed as ShareWare. It became a commercial product published in the USA by Paul Mace Software. John Bridges assumed responsibility for development of the core engine while Wolfgram developed fades, external utilities and new commands.

GRASP 3.0 and 3.5[edit]

In 1988, GRASP 3.0 was released, followed in October 1988 by GRASP 3.5, bundled with Pictor Paint, an improved PCPaint minus publishing features. GRASP 3.5 "[supported] a wide range of video formats, including CGA, EGA, Hercules, VGA and all popular enhanced VGA modes up to 800 x 600 pixels and 1,024 x 768 pixels resolution. The software [displayed] and [edited] images in several standard formats, including PC Paintbrush (PCX) and GIF."[4]

Award-winning animator Tom Guthery claims that by using GRASP in 1990 his early animated computer programs "[gave] smooth movement and detailed animation to a degree that many programmers had thought impossible at the time".[5]

GRASP 4.0[edit]

In February 1991 GRASP 4.0 was released, with the ability to create "self-executing" demos (bind to make EXE added), AutoDesk FLI/FLC support, PC Speaker Digitized Sound, and a robust programming environment. It also included ARTOOLS, a collection of image manipulation tools which included an early morphing utility which tracked all points in source and destination images, creating all the in-between frames. Later that year HRFE (High Res Flic Enhancement) was offered as an add-on for GRASP, "[enabling] GRASP to recognize, import, manipulate and compile animations created in Autodesk Animator Pro environment."[6]

In a published paper critiquing GRASP 4.0, the authors Stuart White and John Lenarcic said that "The GRASP language offers creative freedom in the development of interactive multimedia presentations, especially to seasoned programmers with an artistic inclination."[7]

A stripped-down version of GRASP 4.0 was also included with copies of Philip Shaddock's Multimedia Creations: Hands-On Workshop for Exploring Animation and Sound.[8]

Multi-Media GRASP 1.0[edit]

In June 1993, Multi-Media GRASP 1.0 was released with TrueColor support.

Authorship and ownership

Early in 1990 Doug Wolfgram sold his remaining rights to GRASP (and PCPaint) to John Bridges.

In 1994, GRASP development stopped when John Bridges terminated his publishing contract with Paul Mace Software. In 1995, John created GLPro for IMS Communications Ltd, the newest incarnation of John's ideas behind GRASP updated for Windows. In 2002, John Bridges created AfterGRASP, a successor to GRASP and GLPro.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "GRASP: Summary from the Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats". Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  2. ^ Hart, Glenn A.; Forney, Jim (1985-02-19). "Video Board Reviews: Persyst BoB Color Adapter". PC Magazine: 121–133. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "CBSi". Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-30. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  6. ^ "CBSi". Retrieved 2016-07-23. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2001-06-25. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  8. ^ Philip Shaddock. Multimedia Creations: Hands-on Workshop for Exploring Animation and Sound. Retrieved 2016-07-23. 

External links[edit]