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I imagine, but do not know for sure, that in the early days of film and television, credits were filmed on a second reel and added to the production after the fact.

Historically, what was the first film or television series to use credits that were generated by a computer instead of presented on transparencies or through other means?

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    I'm fairly certain that the opening credits to the original Superman movie were computer generated (given how it looked), although I don't know if it's the earliest example. – Clockwork-Muse Oct 22 '12 at 16:23
  • @Clockwork-Muse: The Superman credits may have been generated with the aid of computer-controlled motion rigs, but they were not "computer generated" in the normal sense. On the other hand, the opening credits for 1958's "The Desk Set" were computer generated in a different sense [the camera appears to be focused upon a line printer, and even though computer time was very expensive it was probably still cheaper to have a computer operate the printer as required than to build a prop that looks and behaves like a line printer]. – supercat May 29 '18 at 22:40
  • @supercat I would say that would make a great additional answer! – jonsca May 29 '18 at 22:47
  • @jonsca: There's another SO question about Superman. As for Desk Set, I don't know with certainty how the credits were done and I'm not sure what exactly would constitute a "computer". Consider, for example, that a computer center might have a card reader attached to one tape drive and a printer attached to another, along with a computer attached to many other tape drives rather than to the card reader and printer directly [since tape drives were faster than card readers or printers, doing this would reduce the amount of time the computer spent waiting for the card reader or printer]. – supercat May 29 '18 at 23:06
  • @jonsca: In such a computer facility, something like the Desk Set credits could most efficiently be accommodated by having someone punch the contents of the credits onto a stack of cards, copying that stack of cards to tape sometime when the card reader wasn't otherwise being used, and feeding that tape to the line printer sometime when it wasn't being used. If the computer operators did things that way, would the resulting credits be "computer generated" if the computer itself wasn't actually involved? – supercat May 29 '18 at 23:08
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A. Michael Noll produced the first computer animated title sequence for Bell Labs' short film "Incredible Machine" in 1968, and for an Arthur C. Clarke TV special The Unexplained in 1970. Clockwork-Muse is correct in the comment above that the original Superman movie was the first feature-length film. I don't know about regular TV series, though.

Here's Incredible Machine from the AT&T Archives, if anyone is interested.

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