LuxRender is based on PBRT, the unbiased raytracer developed by Matt Pharr and Greg Humphreys for academic use. Pharr and Humphreys were kind enough to provide the source code of their program under the terms of the GPL, thus making the program free software.
In 2007, a small group of programmers led by Terrence Vergauwen took on the challenge to modify the program and make it suitable for artistic use. Late 2007, the initial version of LuxRender was released. With the release of LuxRender 0.5 in June 2008, the program was considered to be usable enough for general use. Since then, the rendering speed and the number of features and available exporters has been growing steadily.