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Interviews

Fractals

Only the pros knew how amazing Fractals are, and with the app FRACTINT you could create them yourself.

What a wonderfully puzzling world it is when success barrels into your life. Our Master C book emerged as such a winner that a new issue confronted us–what must we produce as the logical follow-up title for 1991?

A debate ensued among us, "we" now being a team of five full-time employees: attend to the conservative path or remain on the freewheeling liberal highway? The answer? "Why not do both!" We chose to produce four titles. What unfolded from '91 to 93' was a flood of books from Waite Group Plus.

We started by offering two titles as programming books from our best authors, Stephan Prata and Robert Lafore. Another book would be in the area of applications. It would address WordPerfect (the conservative entry), and the fourth and final title would treat the emerging topic of fractals and complex mathematical functions to generate beautiful patterns on the computer

To Waite Group Press the world was always in 3D +
  • Object-Oriented Programming Turbo C++.
  • C++ Primer Plus
  • Fractal Creations
  • Image Lab
  • Multimedia Creations
  • Fractals for Windows

Fractals comprise the foundation of a significant arm of scientific endeavor. I had become enamored with a realm of new possibilities when I encountered a fractal-generating program called Fractint from the Stone Soup Group.

We went all out on Fractal Creations back cover, added 3D Glasses for viewing fractals and a fold-out poster of the best. +

The book, written and created by Tim Wegner and Mark Peterson, seduced the reader with everything one needed to get started: program disks, examples, and source code. There was even a fold-out poster with 3D fractals. And did I mention 3D glasses? No one had tried putting so many intellectual toys into a computer book. And not unexpectedly, I had a tough time selling the concept to PGW, my distributor.

Before the book came out, I explained that we'd mail the poster to all independent bookstores as a "high-flying" PR campaign teaser. "Too expensive," came the inevitable reply. But persistence paid off–-PGW finally came around and collaborated with me on the poster. Once it hit the market, Fractal Creations became an extraordinary success, inspiring the conservative computer book publishing industry to admit that much more might be possible than produced in the past.

This book offered everything on the planet for manipulating images on a PC.

Shortly after fractals entered the mainstream, ray tracing lit up the graphics enthusiasts' stage. Ray tracing is a rendering technique that can realistically simulate the lighting of a scene and its objects. It became a way to make 3D models of anything with a regular PC. Computer Science was suddenly Computer Science of Art, Graphics, and Imaging.

Our group followed Fractal Creations and Ray-tracing Creations with a book on Object-Oriented Programming in Turbo C++. At the same time, we offered C++ Primer Plus from our best-selling authors, Robert Lafore and Stephan Prata.

These were still yet-to-be-recognized languages and were considered in their infancy. So why did these coding books sell so well? Simply this: we merged our best efforts perfectly with the ramp-up of the object-oriented programming curve. Now Waite Group Press was off and running on the programmer super-highway, and it was a great place to be. Coupled with the success of the fractal and graphics books, I was excited beyond illusions.

In the 90s a revolution in PC graphics offered ray tracing as a way to easily build 3D worlds.