OpenGL: A non-proprietary software API for creating and manipulating 2D and 3D graphics. OpenGL runs on a number of platforms including NT and X Windows (unix). OpenGL started life as a Silicon Graphics API. It was later opened up to an industry consortium known as the OpenGL Architecture Review Board that currently controls the API. The ARB includes both Silicon Graphics and Microsoft. OpenGL implementations require certification. Subsets are not permitted.

There are several versions of OpenGL. One is V1.0. Another is V1.0 plus extensions. There is a V1.1. There are both hardware-software and software only implementations. It is not easy to determine exactly where and how OpenGL is deployed. Microsoft purportedly ships OpenGL with Windows 95, but some early versions on Windows 95 seem to lack it. Silicon Graphics at one time shipped a better performing product called CosmoGL

Although Microsoft is a member of the ARB, it also pushes a competing technology known as Direct3D. Also, on Windows platforms, DirectX is often used instead of OpenGL.

OpenGL uses a client-server architecture. Clients and servers may be different machines.

A FAQ, An HTML version of the OpenGL specification, etc can be found at:

Return To Index Copyright 1994-2002 by Donald Kenney.