Chime is a free plugin for web browsers that displays interactive rotatable/zoomable renderings of 3D chemical or macromolecular structures. Also called MDL Chime, Chime was developed by MDL Information systems (now Symyx) in 1996, and is available only for Microsoft Windows.
Origins of Chime
The rendering and molecular visualization command scripting language of Chime were adapted from the C source code of an earlier program, RasMol, developed by Roger A. Sayle and generously placed in the public domain. Tim Maffett, a computational chemist employed at the time by MDL, was the primary architect and programmer of Chime. Although MDL's main interest was in visualization of small organic compounds, Maffett had the forsight to leave RasMol's support for macromolecules intact, and to extend it. The result was a program that was the best in its class, and that became enormously popular with biochemists and drug companies as well as chemists.
Popularity and Decline of Chime
Chime was very popular with biochemists, biochemical educators, and drug companies, as well as with chemists and chemical educators, from its initial availability until the mid-2000's. Over a thousand publically available websites and tutorials utilize Chime in 2008 (see the World Index of Molecular Visualization Resources at MolVisIndex.Org). After a decade of being the best of its class, Chime's popularity waned due to lack of continued development by MDL, the absence of a version for Apple Mac OS X, and MDL's refusal to open its source code to the community of Chime users. By about 2005, Jmol had emerged as a superior, free, and open-source replacement.