Maya was born out of three 3D software lines: The Advanced Visualizer from Wavefront Technologies in California, Explore from Thomson Digital Image (TDI) in France, and Power Animator from Alias in Canada. In 1993 Wavefront purchased TDI, and in 1995 Silicon Graphics Incorporated (SGI) purchased both Alias® and Wavefront and combined them into one working company named Alias|Wavefront. Two years later, Alias|Wavefront released Maya.
Both Alias and Wavefront were working on their next generation of software at the time of the merger. Alias had taken a Macintosh® product, Alias Sketch!, moved it to the SGI platform and added many features to it. The codename for this project was Maya, the Sanskrit term for 'illusion'. The team decided to adopt the Alias Maya architecture, and to merge Wavefront's code with it.
The result was Maya 1.0, released on February 1998 on IRIX® operating system. A Windows® operating system release followed in June 1998 and then shortly after, the various Maya modules were grouped into two packages - Maya Complete and Maya Unlimited. Later, a third offering, Maya Builder was created. By 2001, in response to popular demand, Maya became available on both Linux® and Mac OS® X operating systems.
Maya was introduced to the broader graphics community in two bold moves in 2002. First, the launching of a free Personal Learning Edition (PLE), and second, by a radical re-pricing that saw Maya Complete available for only USD $1,999.00.
Alias|Wavefront was renamed Alias Systems in 2003, and sold to investors in 2004. In 2006, Alias was acquired by Autodesk, Inc. which has continued to break new ground with Maya. Today, 10 years since its first release, Maya continues to drive 3D innovation as Autodesk Maya 2009.