A question I'm often asked is what program or programs do I use to create my stereograms. There is an underlying implication that it is the software that makes the stereogram. This is only true with HIS (hidden-image stereograms) and MTS (mapped textured Stereograms). Even then, pre-processing and post processing graphic elements requires conventional graphics programs.
What it ultimately comes down to for me is eyeballs and trackballs. All the other effects you see come from digital image processing skills which have nothing to do with stereogram creation, per se. That being said, my current hardware & software plays on combinations of the following for a variety of stereogram techniques.
The earliest stereograms on Color Stereo were made with my ATARI Falcon. Atari: the unsung also-ran platform (using windows in 1984) had built-in 16bit color. I'd installed a preemptive multitasking system, and my primary image-processing software had become Apex. When Atari Computers came to an end, I chose to switch to the Macintosh platform.
While creating stereograms, I usually run Windows 7 on my Intel Mac Pro concurrently with Mac OS X. This allows me to use software that no longer, or never did run on a Mac. The process is surprisingly seamless. This is a good time to mention a lot of memory and a fast graphics card are a big help.
The newest Intel Macs can run multiple OS's, but do not support OS 9 (Classic) or any Mac OS previous to Tiger, which is unfortunate. I have a two monitor setup: both 22" with 1280 x 1024 resolution. Though this is effectively 2560 x 1024, it is really only practical working on one screen. Using the other monitor for palettes, and music player is a tremendous productivity boost. For acquiring digital images to work with, I have the usual items you would expect: a scanner, and digital camera, and royalty free sources.
For pre-processing and post-processing stereograms my main program is Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is certainly not a dedicated stereogram tool, but I always seem to find something in it that does most of what I need. Since I use it for all my Web images, digital retouching, and other graphics needs, I stick with it for stereograms. It is my other world, but has become increasingly bloated. I am sure any decent graphics program would have much the same necessary feature sets.
I experiment with a variety of 3-D applications. Strata 3D works well for a couple of things. I use Amorphium Pro a lot . Amorphium is an interesting applicationbut does not work with OS X any later than Panther (10.39) so I need to use the Windows version. Eon View software has some really nice capabilities. I've begun to use Poser for a variety of things. Groboto offers a means of creating fractal like elements.
The only programs I know that are really stereogram dedicated are SIRDS, HIS, and MTS applications. There are only two for Mac I know of which work on a decent level:
Sirds 1.3 - The only decent SIRDS app I've found for OS X is from Katsura Shareware. Works good, but not very intuitive.
Stereo 3-D - a stand alone program: Reasonably priced, works good. OS 9 (Classic) only.
For HIS & MTS stereogram creation I use Stereographic Suite from Inda Software. www.indasoftware.com This is for PC only but works fine on an Intel Mac running Windows. Stereographic Suite also has a depth-image editing component that some users may find useful. I either create my patterns and Depth Images in Photoshop, or adopt 3D models in other applications.
I'm always ready to experiment with new hardware and software. Although costs are certainly something to consider, my biggest impediment is finding time. I just can't seem to download that anywhere.