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A small selection of the books, calendars and newspaper features kept from Tom Baccei’s days of creating stereograms in the 1990s fills his kitchen table in West Fairlee, Vt., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. He said he hadn’t had them out of storage in years. (Valley News – James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

If you’ve ever delighted in a stereogram, you can thank Tom Baccei.

Stereopsis allows us to see the world in three dimensions. It also allows us to see stereograms, the optical illusion from Baccei’s Magic Eye book series that — along with Beanie Babies, frosted tips, Game Boys and raves — became one of the defining fads of the 1990s. By focusing their eyes as if they’re staring through, not at, the colorful repeating patterns, viewers may see a three-dimensional image “magically” appear on the two-dimensional surface of the page; this exercise is called “diverging” one’s eyes.

The West Fairlee resident is the creator of the Magic Eye book series, which was hugely popular in the 1990s.

The Magic Eye chapter “was my time in the goldfish bowl, you could say, my 15 minutes of fame,” he said. Though he enjoyed the art and science of creating the patterns, and even enjoyed the attention on some level, the intensity of the craze made those 15 minutes “not as much fun as you might expect. It’s exhausting, for one thing,” he said. “The business world moved so fast, it would make your head spin.”

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