This (short) history of computer-generated characters in movies starts with its beginnings in stop motion animation, popularised by the likes of Ray Harryhausen before focussing more heavily on the likes of Industrial Light & Magic upto WETA Digital's work on 'Avatar'. Watch below.
It's not the most insightful nor particularly comprehensive but the video does promote underrated CG in the form of the Davy Jones character from the 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' series. I never even realised it was a CG character. Special shout out to 'Casper' too, Casper's sacrifice in that film still gets me...
The video's narrator also points out that 'Jurassic Park' was going to have stop-motion dinosaurs - that would have been such a cinematic loss, the CG in the 1993 film still holds up remarkably well. Unlike the multiple Agent Smith battle from 'The Matrix Reloaded', which looked terrible at the time. And sadly still does.
For a more comprehensive timeline of CG on film, head to Wikipedia. The 'Tron' entry should be of particular interest, as it was allegedly denied an Oscar nomination because using computers was considered "cheating". Pantomime villains, the lot of them.