POV-Ray : Documentation : The Name
  POV-Ray 3.6 Documentation Online View The Original Creation Message A Historic 'Version History' The Name

More on how POV-Ray came to its name.

from Chris Young, to whom I asked if POV's name was related
to the title of a sci-fi book I had just found on a flea market.
Varley is one of my favorite authors and I've owned that book 
long before POV-Ray existed.  POV-Ray was originally going to be 
called Starlight or StarLite or something similar but somebody 
else, I don't know who, said we'd get in trademark trouble over 
some existing product.  Drew Wells was team leader and he picked 
Persistence of Vision based on the properties of the human visual 
system. I also felt there was a double meaning in that POV-Ray 
was the continuation (or persistance) of David K. Buck's DKB-Trace.  
I warned Drew about Varley's book but book titles aren't as messy 
as product names.  Note also that Public Broadcasting System has 
a documentary series called POV but that stands for Point Of View 
which is the filmmaking term for hand-held camera, cinema-verite 
style used in many documentaries.
I wanted to take our team name from the Fractint Stone Soup Group 
and call us the Crystal Soup Group but I got voted down.
        Chris Young, POV-Team Coordinator

from unknown source
After the recent thread on the starting time I POV-Ray I did
a search and found this post to this very news group from
David Buck himself. The message places the birth of the POV-Ray
project to be in May of 1991. A very historic event!
I hope I'm not stepping on toes by re-posting
it  :-)
Sun, 19 Feb 1995 19:14:44 GMT
>I had always presumed that Persistance of Vision was a pun on
>the name of Salvador Dali's painting "The Persistance of
>Memory". Is this right, and if not, how did POV-Ray come to 
> have such a poetic name? :)
The POV-Ray project started in May 1991 when I first proposed the
idea to a group of people on CompuServe.  They liked my DKBTrace
raytracer but didn't like the fact that I was too slow adding new
features to it.  They were going to re-write a raytracer from
scratch, but I suggested that after version 2.12 of DKBTrace, they
could take the code as is and develop it from there into a new
raytracer.  The first name was STAR - an acronym for something or
other.  Then someone in the group came up with "Persistance of
Vision".  We liked it because of its reference to Dali (I
believe the painting was actually called Persistance of Vision - am
I mistaken?).  Moreover, it seemed to symbolize the team who 
"Persisted" to achieve their "Vision".  The 
third reference was to the phychological effect that seeing an image
flashed on a screen causes you to retain that image in short term
memory.  Thus, your memory was a representation of reality but not
really reality. They all seemed to fit together to make a nice name.
Early on, we were abbreviating the name to PVRay, but we were
concerned about a commercial product called PV-Wave.  We agreed to
change the abbreviation to POV-Ray and standardize on the spelling.
>David Buck The Original Creation Message A Historic 'Version History'

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