Until a few years ago, the image-processing community was a relatively small group of people who either had access to expensive commercial image-processing tools or, out of necessity, developed their own software packages. Usually such home-brew environments started out with small software components for loading and storing images from and to disk files. This was not always easy because often one had to deal with poorly documented or even proprietary file formats. An obvious (and frequent) solution was to simply design a new image file format from scratch, usually optimized for a particular field, application, or even a single project, which naturally led to a myriad of different file formats, many of which did not survive and are forgotten today [163, 168]. Nevertheless, writing software for converting between all these file formats in the 1980s and early 1990s was an important business that occupied many people. Displaying images on computer screens was similarly difficult, because there was only marginal support from operating systems, APIs, and display hardware, and capturing images or videos into a computer was close to impossible on common hardware. It thus may have taken many weeks or even months before one could do just elementary things with images on a computer and finally do some serious image processing.
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Mark J. Burge
- Springer London
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