In 1986 after leaving Apple, Steve Jobs had helped fund for a small computer graphics company. That company was named “The Graphics Group” and later came to be known as Pixar. In 1995 under Job's funding, they created “Toy Story.”

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Walt Disney Studios used a Pixar Image Computer and custom software written by Pixar as part of their Computer Animation Production System project, to migrate the laborious ink and paint part of the 2D animation process to a more automated method. In April 1990, Pixar sold its hardware division, including all proprietary hardware technology and imaging software, to Vicom Systems, and transferred 18 of Pixar's approximately 100 employees. Shares climbed to $49 before closing the day at $39. During the 1990s and 2000s, Pixar gradually developed the "Pixar Braintrust," the studio's primary creative development process, in which all directors, writers, and lead storyboard artists at the studio look at each other's projects on a regular basis and give each other very candid "Notes". In preparation for potential fallout between Pixar and Disney, Jobs announced in late 2004 that Pixar would no longer release movies at the Disney-dictated November time frame, but during the more lucrative early summer months. Pixar shareholders received 2.3 shares of Disney common stock for each share of Pixar common stock redeemed. The Pixar name was guaranteed to continue, and the studio would remain in its current Emeryville, California, location with the "Pixar" sign. After a few years, Lasseter and Catmull were able to successfully transfer the basic principles of the Pixar Braintrust to Disney, although meetings of the Disney Story Trust are reportedly "More polite" than those of the Pixar Braintrust.

A large number of animators that make up the animation department at Pixar were hired around the time Pixar released A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2. Due to the traditions that have occurred within the film, such as anthropomorphic animals and easter egg crossovers between movies that have been spotted by fans, a blog post entitled The Pixar Theory was published in 2013 by Jon Negroni to make the belief that all of the characters within the Pixar universe were related. Following the release of Toy Story 2 in 1999, Pixar and Disney had a gentlemen's agreement that Disney would not make any sequels without Pixar's involvement, despite their own right to do so. All Pixar films to date have been computer-animated features, but WALL-E so far has been the only Pixar film to not be completely animated, as it featured a small amount of live-action footage. Jim Morris, general manager of Pixar, produced Disney's John Carter, which Pixar's Andrew Stanton co-wrote and directed. The Pixar Co-op Program, a part of the Pixar University professional development program, allows their animators to use Pixar resources to produce independent films. Since December 2005, Pixar has held exhibitions celebrating the art and artists of Pixar, over their first twenty years in animation. Pixar celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006 with the release of Pixar's seventh feature film, Cars, and held two exhibitions, from April to June 2010, at Science Centre Singapore, in Jurong East, Singapore, and the London Science Museum, London.

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