Special effects pre-Lucas were mostly mechanical toys and puppets. The early computers were too bulky and expensive to be of much utility to moviemakers; among the few exceptions were Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and the s-f sex comedy Flesh Gordon, whose SPFX were devised by Jim Danforth, Dennis Muren and other kids Lucas hired to devise the Millennium Falcon, the Death Star and Star Wars' other cool space-age gadgets. The innovations of Lucas and his team set a new standard, which everyone who followed has copied and built upon.
The 10 Ways Star Wars Changed the Movie Industry
On the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars TIME film critic Richard Corliss looks at how the groundbreaking film changed everything about the movies