The whole fractal thing was primarily the child of the often-ostracized lone-wolf mathematician by the name of Benoit Mandelbrot. He worked at IBM during the 1960s and is the father of fractal science.

He was thought of at the time to be a dabbler, but he saw within chaos, the seeds containing the structure, the formulation of everything. Applied fractal science in the realm of engineering is based upon the dabbler who thought out of the box in a time that rewarded collective thinking.

Project Mandelbrot.

More on Mandelbrot here.