SGI Logo Visual Illusion

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

The glorious SGI logo.

sgi logo 2683m
Sculpture of the SGI logo, at its headquarter in Mountain View, California, USA. Photo taken an 2005 Jan. The plate at the bottom (not shown) reads: “In Celebration of 20 Years of innovation. Dedicated by Dr. James Clark Founder, Silicon Graphics, Inc. on August 12, 2002. Sculpture previously installed at SG Manufacturing S.A., Switzerland”.
sgi logo old
Silicon Graphics's logo.

This logo is designed by Scott Kim. His website at

Scott Kim is an American puzzle and computer game designer, artist, and author of Korean descent. He started writing an occasional “Boggler” column for Discover magazine in 1990, and became an exclusive columnist in 1999, and created hundreds of other puzzles for magazines such as Scientific American and Games, as well as thousands of puzzles for computer games. He was the holder of the Harold Keables chair at Iolani School in 2008.

Kim was born in 1955 in Washington D.C. and grew up in Rolling Hills Estates, California. He had an early interest in mathematics, education, and art, and attended Stanford University, receiving a BA in music, and a PhD in Computers and Graphic Design under Donald Knuth. In 1981, he created a book called Inversions, words that can be read in more than one way. His first puzzles appeared in Scientific American in Martin Gardner's “Mathematical Games” column and he said that the column inspired his own career as a puzzle designer.[1]

[2019-03-09 Wikipedia ]

Silicon Graphics's famous logo is a corner perspective of a tubed cube. The key behind this successful logo lies in the illusion it imparts. A cube appears hexagon when viewed from a corner.

sgi logo on chip
SGI logo etched microscopically on CPU
sgi logo spin animation
SGI logo spin animation

The SGI cube is SGI's hallmark and trademark. Its perspective illusion and rendering symbolizes the company's craft. In early 1990s, SGI is regarded as the king of computer graphics.

sgil new logo
Idiotic sgi new logo.

SGI was the biggest name in computer graphics back in 1990s. They make IRIX, which is their version of Unix (which today we pretty much just have Linux). Irix, HP-UX, AIX, and even Apple, had a unix OS called A/UX. SGI also makes very expensive, bleeding-edge, computer hardware for creating 3D graphics (back then, desktop unix computer is called “workstation”. There's not much of a PC yet.). SGI also was the owner of Cray for a while, which is the world's most powerful super computer. SGI was the one who created the special effects of the movie Jurassic Park (1993). At the time, it was a break-thru.

SGI makes 3D modeling software, at various times called Alias, Wavefront, Maya. (now owned by AutoDesk, maker of AutoCAD)

When i was student around 1992, waiting for bus, i ogle at the buildings of computer companies, where, offices are filled with very expensive workstations, and lots of geek toys. I was thinking, when could i ever be able to work in such a place.

Since 2000s, PC becomes cheaper and powerful, and 3D modeling software sprung up left and right, and free Linux spring up as unix server replacement. That killed SGI.

Today, the one thing from SGI that's still around is OpenGL, and, isn't particularly healthy.

The once brand-new building of SGI, changed owner a few times, and now it's Computer History Museum.

O, sweet history. Sun Microsystems, the creator of Java, once also reined the computing world with their Solaris OS and server hardware. Sun is also dead, bought by Oracle, which never had any cool factor.

Around 1998 SGI is bleeding to death, with graphic CAD systems happily running on cheaper but not slower Windows/Intel and Mac's PowerPC chips. They changed their logo to a stylized SGI and dropped the iconic cube. Later years, due to complaints, they re-adopted the old cube logo.

sgi logo

SGI Opengl Logo Interactive 3d Demo

SGI has this 3d demo, where a spotlight shines on the SGI logo creating a shadow, and you can move the spotlight in real time.

sgi opengl logo demo fkmfr
SGI opengl logo demo

Does any know if that's been ever replicated somewhere? e.g. I want to run it in macOS.

2020-02-26 Dave House at Mozilla recreated the SGI 3d logo shadow demo. At