SGI Logo Visual Illusion

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
sgi logo 2683m
Real sculpture of the SGI logo, at its headquarter in Mountain View, California, USA. 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. Scott Kim website at

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.
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Computer rendered sgi logos, by Paul Bourke

SGI logo spinning A spinning sgi cube. 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