A Look Back At The First 3D Accelerator

Image: Wikipedia

We take graphics cards for granted these days. But there was a time when blocky resolutions and pixels the size of dinner plates were standard.

But in November 1996, the 3dfx Voodoo entered the consumer PC gaming market - and it changed everything.

3dfx no longer exists these days: the company and its intellectual property were acquired by NVIDIA. But for a period, 3dfx's products revolutionised gaming on the PC, making games playable at 640x480. The company also coined the term SLI, which NVIDIA still uses to this day.

3dfx ads were pretty crazy back in the day too, featuring old people having heart attacks and falling asleep in birthday cakes because their 3dfx chip was being used for video games instead. A couple are at the end of the video above, but if you just want to watch the ad I've embedded it here.


    'The company also coined the term SLI' - Same acronym, different technology.

    I remember playing Carmageddon on my 3DFX card and just marvelling at the smoothness and speed of the glorious graphics.

      Speaking of Carmageddon, it's free on Android and it's still a blast to play, and one of the best Android ports ever.

    I remember buying this card years ago and when newer graphics were coming out, it still was on par with them. I don't know how it did it but it ran the new games without any issues.

    I got a 4mb Voodoo second hand off someone my dad knew when I was about 14? - It was superceeded by then, but it still made Team Fortress look amazing :D

    Being able to play Quake 1 an 2 on full res with my good ol Voodoo 2. Best purchase ever!

    Vodoo banshee was my first 3d card.
    Coloured light glows in Quake, still remember draging all my friends over to show it off.

    You're gonna want a D3D accelerator to pair that with mate.

    I had a 4mb voodoo monster which was a dedicated 3d accelerator. It's likely still in the shed somewhere. The games I played that made great use of it were Quake, Carmageddon and the original GTA. These were with opengl patches though, the only game i remember running direct3d on back then was Unreal Tournament.

    Actually... The first 3d accelerator was S3 Virge. It was launched in 1995.

      But the voodoo gfx card was the coolest teenage geek's wet dream!

    Ah the Voodoo cards, classic hardware. Shame that Glide got completely dropped by everyone. The late 1990s were exciting and awful for anyone who wants to go back and relive those memories. Emulation is insanely hit and miss and the amount of hardware that got deprecated really quickly between Windows 98 and XP is just nuts. Before Dosbox you really were screwed for running DOS games next to Windows NT. Dual booting sucked and half the time things like Sound Blaster Live cards just couldn't run the old games like the Sound Blaster 16s did.

    Last edited 23/01/17 8:02 pm

    I got my 12mb Voodoo2 for Christmas one year, forget when. I had it running off my onboard 2mb Trident GPU, in my Pentium 233MMX IBM Aptiva, which is hilarious in hindsight. But being able to play Quake and Quake 2 in OpenGL? Priceless. Friends had Banshees and they were pretty great too.

    But the 3Dfx cards paved the way for the Nvidia Riva TNT and TNT2s, which were an absolute game changer at the time. They pretty much birthed the modern gaming GPU. I was so jealous of my friend's AGP 32mb TNT2 at the time, it was a monster.

    We can thank 3Dfx for all of that goodness.

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