Animal CAD

I always wondered why Robert McNeel & Associates have named all their software after animals. Their NURBS modeling software is called Rhinoceros. Flamingo is their photorealistic rendering plug-in for Rhino. Penguin is their sketch/cartoon rendering plug-in for Rhino (and AutoCAD as well). Bongo is their animation plug-in for Rhino. It’s no surprise that their workgroup license managing software is called the Zoo.

How all this came about is as interesting as their software. Apparently, McNeel had another name for Rhino but were having trademark problems with it. The in-house code name for the project was Rhino, based on one of the programmers having a poster on the wall of the Dürer woodcut of a Rhino (see image below). Since they couldn’t use the other name and they wanted to get the beta out, they stuck with Rhino. It worked well for them since nobody forgot the name or confused it with other 3D products. So they just kept using more animal names.

  • Michael Gibson

    Hi Deelip! Rhino is named Rhino because that’s what I named it. 🙂

    There wasn’t any trademark problems with any different name, in fact the only trademark problem was a bit of conflict with Rhino records over the Rhino name itself. But their business was sufficiently divergent to make that wash out.

    The original name of Rhino was “Sculptura 2.0” – Sculptura was my original mesh modeling package that I mostly developed while still in college.

    The new product was such a massive change from Sculptura 1.x that I decided it would be better to use a new name and really just set it up as a brand new product. I decided to use Rhino as a code name. I can’t tell you any precise reason why, it was just kind of a flash and a distinctive name so I liked it. I don’t think I had the Durer poster on my wall yet, I tended to collect a bunch of Rhino stuff after it was named Rhino not so much before.

    Partway through the beta release we tried to think of a final name to replace the Rhino code name. But nobody could think up any names that really resonated well, they all had a very bland and generic feeling compared to “Rhino”, so it stayed “Rhino” through to the release.

    The other animal names came after “Rhino”.

    I still remember one beta user e-mailing me incredulous about the name, saying “You’re not going to name your product after a giant nearly extinct land animal are you? That makes no sense!” 🙂

    – Michael

    Michael Gibson
    Triple Squid Software Design
    http://moi3d.com

  • Michael Gibson

    Hi Deelip! Rhino is named Rhino because that’s what I named it. :)There wasn’t any trademark problems with any different name, in fact the only trademark problem was a bit of conflict with Rhino records over the Rhino name itself. But their business was sufficiently divergent to make that wash out.The original name of Rhino was “Sculptura 2.0” – Sculptura was my original mesh modeling package that I mostly developed while still in college.The new product was such a massive change from Sculptura 1.x that I decided it would be better to use a new name and really just set it up as a brand new product. I decided to use Rhino as a code name. I can’t tell you any precise reason why, it was just kind of a flash and a distinctive name so I liked it. I don’t think I had the Durer poster on my wall yet, I tended to collect a bunch of Rhino stuff after it was named Rhino not so much before.Partway through the beta release we tried to think of a final name to replace the Rhino code name. But nobody could think up any names that really resonated well, they all had a very bland and generic feeling compared to “Rhino”, so it stayed “Rhino” through to the release.The other animal names came after “Rhino”.I still remember one beta user e-mailing me incredulous about the name, saying “You’re not going to name your product after a giant nearly extinct land animal are you? That makes no sense!” 🙂 – MichaelMichael GibsonTriple Squid Software Designhttp://moi3d.com

  • Deelip Menezes

    Interesting. I will forward your comment to the person who told me about the Rhino naming story.

  • Deelip Menezes

    Interesting. I will forward your comment to the person who told me about the Rhino naming story.