Maya is an application used to generate 3D assets for use in film, television, games and architecture. The software was initially released for the IRIX operating system. However, this support was discontinued in August 2006 after the release of version 6.5. Maya was available in both “Complete” and “Unlimited” editions until August 2008, when it was turned into a single suite.
Maya 1.0 was released in February 1998. Following a series of acquisitions, Maya was bought by Autodesk® in 2005. Under the name of the new parent company, Maya was renamed Autodesk® Maya. However, the name “Maya” continues to be the dominant name used for the product.
Originally it was a next-generation animation product under development at Alias Research, Inc. based on code from The Advanced Visualizer, PowerAnimator and Alias Sketch. The code was ported to IRIX and animation features were added. The codename for this porting project was Maya. Walt Disney Feature Animation collaborated closely with Maya’s development during its production of Dinosaur. Disney requested that the user interface of the application be customizable so that a personalized workflow could be created. This was a particular influence in the open architecture of Maya, and partly responsible for it becoming so popular in the industry.
After Silicon Graphics Inc. acquired both Alias and Wavefront Technologies, Inc., Wavefront’s next-generation technology (then under development) was merged into Maya. SGI’s acquisition was a response to Microsoft Corporation acquiring Softimage, Co. The new wholly owned subsidiary was named “Alias|Wavefront”.
In the early days of development, Maya started with Tcl as the scripting language, in order to leverage its similarity to a Unix shell language. But after the merger with Wavefront Sophia, the scripting language in Wavefront’s Dynamation, was chosen as the basis of MEL (Maya embedded language).