When I was writing an article on the Mandelbrot set, I looked for software to generate illustrations. Needless to say that there is lots of stuff available for a colorful subject like that. But, lo and behold, I discovered that the venerable Fractint still exists, and is actually still maintained! The program was originally released in 1988. The latest release, at the time of writing, dates from February 2012. Being a Linux user, I installed xfractint, the X version of the software. Everything about this software reminds me of the olden days, starting with the opening screen, which shows the Mandelbrot set rendered using the original VGA 256 color palette:

Mandelbrot set using the default VGA 256 color paletteMandelbrot set using the default VGA 256 color palette

Are you old enough to remember this? and associated websites really breathe the atmosphere of the golden days of Fractint. Some of the sites still have “Made with Notepad” badges, do you remember those? Anyway, it’s really cool that Fractint is still under active development after all these years. Keep up the good work, guys!

Encore: When going through my old images, I also found the example below. This is a file that I created with Fractint on 9 January 1991 (yes, I’m that old ☺). It shows a detail of the Mandelbrot set. Click on the image for the original (GIF) file.

Detail of the Mandelbrot setDetail of the Mandelbrot set


Stuart (not verified)

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 16:07

In my opinion, Fractint is STILL the best generator out there. I use it in a DOSBox emulation on Win7 simply because of its myriad of options. There may be quicker programs of this sort out there, but I don't know of any that can handle over 50 fractal types, or do parameter evolving, sound generation, 3D projection... this does them all out of the box.

It may look dated nowadays, but in all honesty, it... just... works... as it is.

You’re probably right. I didn’t really compare it with other software, but the possibilities of Fractint are still amazing. The Koch curve on Fractal Dimension is also done with Fractint, for example. I did use Mandel to create the black-and-white illustration where you can still see the filaments of the Mandelbrot Set; I didn’t manage to do that with Fractint.

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Submitted on 1 May 2012