The Utah teapot, or the Newell teapot, is a 3D test model that has become a standard reference object and an in-joke within the computer graphics community. It is a mathematical model of an ordinary teapot that appears solid, cylindrical, and partially convex.

A picture of a Utah Teapot with the HTCPCP error code for “I’m a Teapot” on it.
A picture of a Utah Teapot with the HTCPCP error code for “I’m a Teapot” on it. Picture by Windell Oskay / CC BY 2.0

A teapot primitive is considered the equivalent of a “hello, world” program, as a way to create an easy 3D scene with a somewhat complex model acting as a basic geometry reference for scene and light setup. Some programming libraries, such as the OpenGL Utility Toolkit, even have functions dedicated to drawing teapots.

The teapot model was created in 1975 by early computer graphics researcher Martin Newell, a member of the pioneering graphics program at the University of Utah. The original teapot the Utah teapot was based on is still available from Friesland Porzellan and is sold as the “1,4L Utah Teapot”.