In the beginning...
glChess started in early 2000. Written by Robert Ancell as a first open-source software project it was really just a vehicle to test out programming open-source. It was written in C (which he had just learnt recently), used openGL for graphics, and GLUT for the UI. The model pieces were hard coded and the pieces measured from a wooden chess set by hand. As you can guess this took a long time...
The first release (0.1.0) was made on May 5th 2000. This basically just drew the board; most of the piece models were only half finished.
glChess made its debut on SourceForge on the 31st May 2000. By then it was up to version 0.1.3 and you could play a basic game of chess. This would be the last release for a few months as the first year of University would take up Roberts time...
By the end of 2000 glChess had been downloaded 167 times...
With the University holidays starting version 0.1.6 was released on new years day. The big new feature was the pieces had reflections on the board. This would herald the beginning of an emphisis on eye candy and not chess playability. Roberts lack of playing of chess showed as the first feedback from people who had downloaded it showing the rules were just plain wrong.
On the 8th of April 2001 version 0.2.0 was released. The UI had been changed from GLUT to GTK+. With this being the first GTK+ application Robert had developed it was soon followed by version 0.2.1 a few hours later!
The team expands
In April 2001 Michael Duelli joined the glChess team. He was a chess player and had been providing rule fixes. He was interested in linking glChess to the crafty chess engine using the CECP protocol (Chess Engine Communication Protocol). The first code was cut at the start of May 2001; with the release of 0.2.4 the call went out to users to test it!
Version 0.3.0 was released on June 27th 2001. glChess supported play against the crafty or gnuchess AIs, many many bugs had been fixed, it had been sucessfully compiled on the IRIX platform, memory footprint had been reduced, some optimisation had been performed.
The next month would see a peak in downloads with 4,233 downloads recorded! During 2001 glChess had been downloaded a whopping 17,500 times!
The slow decline...
0.4.0 came out in December 2001. This was a maturity release with new dialogs for the UI. After Jan 2002 development petered off. Robert had moved onto other projects. Both Robert and Michael were busy working on their degrees.
In 2002 downloads had dropped to 14,200, 8,300 in 2003, 10,100 in 2004. People were still sending in reports but no-one had time to act on them. The developers would love to keep supporting but full time jobs sapped away all the time...
During 2002-2003 some interest was shown in picking up the project (including a UI for Mac OSX), but this came to nothing. glChess did make it to OSX however; in March 2002 Apple was licensed the code to 0.4.6 for use their chess application (recognise the models?).
In December 2004 (almost the 5th year of glChess) Robert made a break for 1.0! To reflect the age of development (and to cheat a bit!) the version number jumped from 0.4 to 0.8. This release was a ground-up rewrite; the UI went from Gtk+ 1.2 to 2.0, network support was added. It was all looking promising until the development ran out of steam in May 2005.
But glChess will not go quietly! In December 2005 development started again with yet another rewrite. C was thrown out in favour of Python - this was to reduce development time, make glChess cross platform (there may be a Windows version yet), and make the codebase more testable and maintainable. Luckily this time the majority of the code was ported from the 0.8 series to the new 0.9 series. The rule is there can be no 0.10 series - the next major release is 1.0!
Follow the Gnome
December 16 2006. A day that shall live in infamy. It took seven years but glChess has now hit 1.0. (I'm as surprised as you are). This closes a chapter in development - glChess is now part of Gnome and development has moved there. glChess is in a competitive environment with Knights (KDE), pychess (GTK+), Chess (OS X) and Vista Chess (Windows). World domination is next...