Tom Hudson (programmer)

Last updated
Tom Hudson
Video game programmer
Known for 3D Studio

Tom Hudson is an American programmer best known for co-creating the 3D modeling and animation package 3D Studio (which became 3D Studio Max, then Autodesk 3ds Max) as well as creating its precursor, CAD-3D for the Atari ST.


He began his career as a technical editor and programmer for Atari 8-bit family magazine ANALOG Computing , where he wrote type-in video games and utilities and his first 3D rendering program. He left shortly after the introduction of the Atari 520ST in 1985 to write the bitmap paint program DEGAS. Hudson drew the sample images for DEGAS and created the animated short that shipped with 3D Studio.

Early life

Tom Husdon was born in Springfield, Missouri and received a bachelor's degree from Southwest Missouri State University. [1] The first computer he owned was a Compucolor II and he later bought an Atari 400. [1]


ANALOG Computing

From 1982 until 1985, Hudson was a technical editor for Atari 8-bit computer magazine ANALOG Computing . [2] While at ANALOG, he wrote a number of machine language games printed as type-in programs, including Fill 'er Up (based on Qix ), [3] Livewire! (based on Tempest ), Retrofire!, Planetary Defense (co-written with Charles Bachand), and Fire Bug (co-written with Kyle Peacock). All games were accompanied by the assembly language source code. From issues 13 through 40, Hudson wrote a 6502 tutorial column called "Boot Camp." He also wrote a machine language monitor called HBUG, published in issue 18, for use by readers of the column. [4]

In 1982, Hudson developed Buried Bucks (stylized as Buried Buck$), an action game sold commercially by the magazine under the name ANALOG Software. [5] Buried Bucks was licensed to Imagic which enhanced and re-released it in 1984 as Chopper Hunt . [5] In ANALOG Computing issue 8, Hudson presented a program called Graphic Violence! which creates visuals similar to the expanding explosions in Atari's 1980 Missile Command arcade game. [6] That effect is used in both Buried Bucks and Planetary Defense.

In 1984 he wrote a 3D object viewer called Solid States for the Atari 8-bit line, published in ANALOG #16. The Atari BASIC program lets the user enter a series of 3D points, then a series of lines connecting them, and displays the result as a wireframe. [7] [8] The objects themselves are created on graph paper.

Atari ST and beyond

Tom Hudson started writing a paint program for the new Atari 520ST while he was at ANALOG. He showed it to editor Michael Deschenes, who wasn't interested, so he kept developing it in his spare time. [1] He contacted Batteries Included, a company which didn't have any ST software in its line-up. They wanted him to finish the program in six weeks, so he left ANALOG and returned to Missouri to focus on it. Batteries Included published it as DEGAS in 1985. He created an enhanced version, DEGAS Elite, released in 1986. [9]

After DEGAS, Hudson wrote the 3D modeller CAD-3D for the Atari ST. It was published in 1986 by Antic Software, which was run by Gary Yost. CAD-3D started as a port of Solid States to the Atari ST. [10] It was later renamed Cyber Studio and became the center of a suite of add-ons.

Hudson abandoned the Atari ST when expected improvements in the hardware did not occur. [2] Working with Yost, Jack Powell, Dan Silva, and others, "The Yost Group" developed 3D Studio for MS-DOS-based IBM PC compatibles which was published in 1990 by Autodesk. [8] The animated short Cornerstone, which shipped with 3D Studio, was created by Hudson. [8]

Return to games

Under the name ANALOG Retro, Hudson teamed up with former magazine staffers Lee Pappas and Jon Bell to write the Star Raiders -inspired Star Rangers for iOS. It was released in 2010 [11] and is no longer available.

In 2012, Hudson enhanced his Atari 8-bit Planetary Defense game to take advantage of modern emulators. Planetary Defense 2012 was announced in the AtariAge forums on September 2, 2012. [12]


Atari 8-bit games
Atari 8-bit non-game software
Atari ST

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atari ST</span> Line of home computers from Atari Corporation

The Atari ST is a line of personal computers from Atari Corporation and the successor to the Atari 8-bit family. The initial model, the Atari 520ST, had limited release in April–June 1985 and was widely available in July. It was the first personal computer with a bitmapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research's GEM from February 1985. The Atari 1040ST, released in 1986 with 1 MB of RAM, was the first home computer with a cost-per-kilobyte of less than US$1.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atari 8-bit family</span> Home computer series introduced in 1979

The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers introduced by Atari, Inc. in 1979 with the Atari 400 and Atari 800. The series was successively upgraded to the Atari 1200XL, Atari 600XL, Atari 800XL, Atari 65XE, Atari 130XE, Atari 800XE, and Atari XEGS, the last discontinued in 1992. These all differ primarily in packaging, each based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU at 1.79 MHz and the same custom coprocessor chips. As the first home computer architecture with coprocessors, it has graphics and sound more advanced than most contemporary machines. Video games were a major appeal, and first-person space combat simulator Star Raiders is considered the platform's killer app. The plug-and-play peripherals use the Atari SIO serial bus, with one developer eventually also co-patenting USB.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Autodesk Animator</span>

Autodesk Animator is a 2D computer animation and painting program published in 1989 for MS-DOS. It was considered groundbreaking when initially released.

Optimized Systems Software (OSS) was a company that produced disk operating systems, programming languages with integrated development environments, and applications primarily for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers. OSS was best known for their enhanced versions of Atari DOS, Atari BASIC, and the Atari Assembler Editor, all of which were substantially improved over Atari's products, as well as the Action! programming language. OSS also sold some software for the Apple II.

HomePak, published in 1984 by Batteries Included, is an integrated application written for the Atari 8-bit family and ported to the Commodore 64, Commodore 128, IBM PCjr, and Apple II. It includes a word processor (HomeText), database (HomeFind), and terminal communications program (HomeTerm). HomePak was designed by Russ Wetmore for Star Systems Software, Inc. The Commodore 128 version was ported by Sean M. Puckett and Scott S. Smith.

<i>Antic</i> (magazine) Defunct Atari 8-bit computer magazine

Antic was a print magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit family of home computers and later the Atari ST. It was named after the ANTIC chip in the 8-bit line which, in concert with CTIA or GTIA, generates the display. The magazine was published from April 1982 until June/July 1990. Antic printed type-in programs, reviews, and tutorials, among other articles. Each issue contained one type-in game as "Game of the Month." In 1986, STart magazine was spun off to exclusively cover the Atari ST line.

<i>ANALOG Computing</i> Defunct Atari 8-bit computer magazine

ANALOG Computing was an American computer magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit family of home computers. It was published from 1981 until 1989. In addition to reviews and tutorials, ANALOG printed multiple programs in each issue for users to type in. The magazine had a reputation for machine language games—much smoother than those written in Atari BASIC—and which were uncommon in competing magazines. Such games were accompanied by the assembly language source code. ANALOG also sold commercial games, two books of type-in software, and access to a custom bulletin-board system. After the Atari ST was released, coverage of the new systems moved to an ST-Log section of the magazine before spinning off into a separate publication under the ST-Log name.

Antic Software was a software company associated with Antic, a magazine for the Atari 8-bit family of computers. Bound into issues of the magazine, the Antic Software catalog initially sold Atari 8-bit games, applications, and utilities from the recently defunct Atari Program Exchange. Original submissions were later added, as well as public domain collections, with all software provided on self-documented disk. When the Atari ST was released, it became a mixture of Atari 8-bit and Atari ST software and sold some major Atari ST titles such as CAD-3D. The magazine insert changed names several times, eventually being branded as The Catalog.

<i>Spys Demise</i> 1982 video game

Spy's Demise is an action game written by Alan Zeldin for the Apple II and published by Penguin Software in 1982. It was ported to the Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64, TI-99/4A, and Vector-06c. The game contains a puzzle which at the time of release could be solved for a Spy's Demise T-shirt. According to Antic magazine in June 1984, only four people had solved it. The game was followed by a 1983 sequel, The Spy Strikes Back.

Atari Program Exchange (APX) was a division of Atari, Inc. that sold software via mail-order for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers from 1981 until 1984. Quarterly APX catalogs were sent to all registered Atari 8-bit owners. APX encouraged any programmer, not just professionals, to submit video games, educational software, applications, and utilities. If selected, a program was added to the catalog with credit given to the programmer. The top submissions of the quarter in each category were recognized. One program each year received the top honor: the Atari Star award. Several APX titles, such as Eastern Front (1941), Caverns of Mars, and Atari Star winner Typo Attack, were moved to Atari's official product line. A few internally developed Atari products were sold through APX, such as Atari Pascal and the developer handbook De Re Atari.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atari 8-bit family software</span>

Many pieces of software were available for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers. Software was sold both by Atari, Inc. and third parties. Atari also distributed software through the Atari Program Exchange from 1981 to 1984. After APX folded, many titles were picked up by Antic Software.

<i>Chessmaster 2000</i> 1986 video game

The Chessmaster 2000 is a computer chess game by The Software Toolworks. It was the first in the Chessmaster series and published in 1986. It was released for Amiga, Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Macintosh, and IBM PC compatibles.

Happy drives are series of disk drive enhancements for the Atari 8-bit and Atari ST computer families produced by a small company Happy Computers. Happy Computers is most noted for the add-in boards for the Atari 810 and Atari 1050 disk drives, which achieved a tremendous speed improvement for reading and writing, and for the ability to "back up" floppies. Happy's products were among the most popular Atari computer add-ons. They were still in use and active in the aftermarket as of 2009.

Cyber Studio CAD-3D is a 3D modeling and animation package developed by Tom Hudson for the Atari ST computer and published by Antic Software. The package is a precursor to 3D Studio Max.

DEGAS is a bitmap graphics editor created by Tom Hudson for the Atari ST and published by Batteries Included in 1985. Hudson created some of the sample paintings that shipped with DEGAS.

Russ Wetmore is an American programmer and video game designer best known for writing commercial games and applications for the Atari 8-bit family in the early to mid 1980s. His Frogger-inspired Preppie! was published by Adventure International as well as its sequel. He stopped writing games after the video game crash of 1983 and developed the integrated HomePak productivity suite for Batteries Included.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gary Yost</span> American filmmaker and software designer

Gary Yost is an American filmmaker and software designer, best known for leading the team that created Autodesk 3ds Max.

<i>Chopper Hunt</i> 1984 video game

Chopper Hunt is a side-view shoot 'em up written by Tom Hudson and published by Imagic in 1984 for the Atari 8-bit family and Commodore 64. It was one of the last games from Imagic before the company went out of business. Chopper Hunt is an enhanced version of the Atari 8-bit game Buried Bucks released by ANALOG Software in 1982. In both games, the player files a helicopter that uses bombs to unearth buried items. Contemporaneous reviews were mixed.

Movie Maker is a computer program published by Reston Publishing Company in 1984 which allows users to author computer-animated visual sequences with audio. Self-playing movies can be viewed without the Movie Maker software. It was developed by Interactive Picture Systems for the Atari 8-bit family. In 1985 it was re-published by Electronic Arts, including a port to the Commodore 64.


  1. 1 2 3 Jainschigg, John (November 1986). "Gradus ad Parnassum" (PDF). Atari Explorer. pp. 44–49.
  2. 1 2 Hudson, Tom. "The People of ANALOG Computing". Klanky the Robot's ANALOG Computing Compendium.
  3. Hudson, Tom (March 1983). "Fill 'Er Up". ANALOG Computing (10): 100.
  4. 1 2 Hudson, Tom (April 1984). "HBUG: Hudson's Debugging Utility". ANALOG Computing. No. 18. p. 78.
  5. 1 2 Pappas, Lee. "ANALOG Software". GearRant.
  6. Hudson, Tom (August 1982). "Graphic Violence!". ANALOG Computing (8): 57.
  7. 1 2 Hudson, Tom (February 1984). "Solid States: A 3-D Object Plotting System". ANALOG Computing (16).
  8. 1 2 3 Baker, Dave (February 25, 2010). "The History of 3D Studio – Tom Hudson interview". CGPress.
  9. Bass, Patrick (January 1987). "DEGAS Elite". Antic. 5 (9).
  10. Doudoroff, Martin. "The Antic Cyber Graphics Software and the Pre-History of Autodesk 3D Studio and Discreet 3ds MAX". Archived from the original on April 30, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. 1 2 Friedman, Lex (March 31, 2010). "Star Rangers for iPhone". Macworld.
  12. 1 2 "Planetary Defense 2012". AtariAge Forums. September 2, 2012.
  13. Hudson, Tom (March 1983). "Planetary Defense". ANALOG Computing. No. 17. p. 83.