TechnoSphere was an online digital environment launched on September 1,1995 and hosted on a computer at a UK university. This online program was one of many digital artificial life simulations that evolved as the World Wide Web began to grow, many museums and classrooms found the tool to be a valuable complement to learning material on natural selection and ecosystems. The experiment operated online until 2002 and was unavailable until January 15,2007 when it was launched again, TechnoSphere was a real-time, 3D simulation of an environment that was populated by virtual creatures. Users across the globe had the capability to create their own creatures through a website, the program was capable of modeling such concepts as simple evolution and carrying capacity. Despite limited available creature designs, no two would behave in the same way, due to chance interactions with its environment. Physically, the landscape of TechnoSphere consisted of 16 km² of terrain. It was capable of supporting approximately 4,000 creatures, though sources suggest that as many as 20,000 creatures typically would coexist in the virtual environment at one time. After the relaunch, it was stated that the software limited the number of creatures at 200,000. Because each creatures behavior was unique, no single event could have been predicted, for example, even though there was no explicit flocking algorithm written into the program, creatures could be found organizing themselves into groups, most likely impelled by urges to mate and eat. The programs that supported the website were scalable, and could be modified to support a larger or smaller community of creatures, users accessing the site were able to create their own artificial life forms, building carnivores or herbivores from a select few component parts. Their digital DNA was linked to each component and the completed creatures attributes was determined by the combination of each features strengths, once a creature design was finished, users would name their digital creature, tag it with their e-mail address, and enter it into the digital environment. There they chased or evaded each other, ate, grew and they also produced offspring, which were variants of the parents, sometimes incorporating aspects of both parents and other times favoring one parent creatures attributes over the others. General behavior patterns had emerged, but it was difficult to predict what was going to happen based solely on a creatures design, the one thing all TechnoSphere creatures did have in common was that they would all eventually die. There was only one gender in TechnoSphere, so the creature that initiated mating was the parent that ended up carrying and caring for the offspring, Creature behavior was directed by a set of algorithms called Creature Comforts, designed by Julian Saunderson. It dictated, for example, that behavior could only be initiated if both creatures hunger was at least 50% satiated. When significant events occurred in the TechnoSphere, a users creature would send brief email messages home, users were also able to visit the website and view 2D snapshots of their creature, check family trees, world statistics, and search for other creatures and their users. One report described the popularity by citing that the online version had attracted over a 100,000 users who had created 3,286,148. Over the years in which the website was operating, the growing popularity facilitated necessary updates to the software and hardware, causing website downtime
Part of the fractal landscape of TechnoSphere. The trees were positioned with a seeding algorithm created by Gordon Selley.
Some TechnoSphere creatures roaming around in the 3D environment.
A screenshot of the web interface where users were able to choose creature components.