Many years ago at High School, I first encountered the Mandelbrot fractal as generated by a Pascal application running on an Apple //e. It wasn’t fancy, or fast - but it intrigued me.
Over the years since then I have tinkered with various applications that render different kinds of fractals. Some of these I wrote myself, others I downloaded from Bulletin Boards, and later, the ‘net.
One highlight was an application I wrote for my Amstrad CPC 6128 computer - this application took over a day (around 28 hours, if memory serves) to eventually render a 1000x1000 Mandelbrot. A humble Epson printer was then pressed into service to produce a huge 150cm square poster with a whopping 16 levels of gray.
Another was a Turbo Pascal application I wrote to draw a monochrome fractal on the Hercules display of a friends 286 (Hi Daniel!). We were both amazed at how fast this 12MHz PC ran.
Since those heady days I’ve played around with many other generators - until one day someone suggested that there needed to be a way to generate the fractals while the machine wasn’t in use. This would make it more fun to see the fractals because there wouldn’t be the tedious waiting. For best impression, the machine would need to make it’s own decisions about what was interesting and what was not.
And so was born the Fractal screensaver. Unlike every other fractal program that I’ve seen, the screensaver is completely automatic, exploring whatever parts of the Mandelbrot fractal it thinks are worth the effort.
This can be kinda frustrating when it zooms off and doesn’t magnify something you want to see more of - but mostly the program makes good decisions.