TechSpot: History of the GPU, 3Dfx Voodoo - the game-changer

Launched on November 1996, 3Dfx's Voodoo graphics consisted of a 3D-only card that required a VGA cable pass-through from a separate 2D card to the Voodoo, which then connected to the display.

The cards were sold by a large number of companies. Orchid Technologies was first to market with the $299 Orchid Righteous 3D, a board noted for having mechanical relays that “clicked” when the chipset was in use. Later revisions utilized solid-state relays in line with the rest of the vendors. The card was followed by Diamond Multimedia’s Monster 3D, Colormaster’s Voodoo Mania, the Canopus Pure3D, Quantum3D, Miro Hiscore, Skywell (Magic3D), and the 2theMAX Fantasy FX Power 3D.

Voodoo Graphics revolutionized personal computer graphics nearly overnight and rendered many other designs obsolete, including a vast swathe of 2D-only graphics producers. The 3D landscape in 1996 favoured S3 with around 50% of the market. That was to change soon, however. It was estimated that 3Dfx accounted for 80-85% of the 3D accelerator market during the heyday of Voodoo’s reign.

Read: History of the Modern Graphics Processor, Part 2

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Loved this article. I remember all this cards coming out as I grew up, was so thrilling to see what's new. And I guess on the next one we'll read about the radeon 9700. I remember how big that launch was, with nVidia pretty much being the obvious choice for good performance in those days. It was kinda like when the thunderbird-core Athlon came out. Awesome

its sad how a company can kill technology that is far more advance and better overall just because they are getting more money from a partner (MS).

Glide to me was 100 times better than DirectX, its just a shame that development for it stopped.

Games like Everquest and half-life looked sooooo much better on Glide is not even funny. And yes, i had two 3DFx Voodo II in SLI mode, man i was the king of the hill in EQ.

Oh the memories. I remember when I first ran Quake on my Diamond Monster 3D. Man, what a difference. Then Need for Speed 2, Tomb Raider, Descent... makes me want to start playing those games again

Tomb Raider on dual Monster 3D II actually looked amazing. I remember buying both cards for $50 at a Ham Radio Operators flea market. Still have both in a box somewhere.

One of my first "gaming" pc had 2 Vodoo 2 in SLI (base video was Riva 128), with an Aureal A3D sound card.

Tomb Raider & Unreal Tournament looked amazing (at the time)

I had Voodoo 3Dfx 8mb, Voodoo II 12mb and Voodoo 3 16mb (AGP) back in the day before switching to NVidia

Who remembers that beast of a card the Voodoo 5 that was their last attempt at greatness

I still fondly remember getting my first 3Dfx card - Maxi Gamer 3Dfx with a whopping 4MB of memory. The excitement of loading up my first 3Dfx enabled games, seeing that little 3Dfx logo spin up when the driver initialised and the game started.

It was right around the time that I was going to my friends house most weekends for LAN parties (this is before we had broadband at home, so LAN gaming was the only real way to play against each other) and enjoyed classics like Carmageddon, Quake, Unreal, etc... honestly I absolutely loved computing back then - the endless improvements and seeing drives going up from hundreds of megabytes to what we have now - terabytes!

Nice little nostalgia trip - thanks

Had this card come with a PC my missus got 2nd hand. Before that I was rendering Halflife in software mode. This thing made a huge graphical difference.
I remember it used to click when switching between 2D and 3D.

that card in the picture (i.e. Diamond Monster 3D 4MB) i still have in my room right now collecting dust in my cabinet (i mostly keep it for nostalgia sake nowadays)

i believe i paid about $200 for it around 1996-1997 as it was the first graphics card i bought and it was the first time PC graphics cards got good as i remember when i first installed the graphics card into my Pentium 133mhz PC that i did not realize you had to use OpenGL mode to get Quake 1 looking great and at first i was disappointed because it was still using software mode and not the graphics card but i accidentally figured it out somehow and then i was thinking "WOW this is great!" because back then it blew away the N64 which was pretty much the high end console at the time. i remember using it on Tomb Raider to back in the old days.

I used to have the 3dfx Voodoo 3 3000. The thing was a monster!!! Unreal Tournament was the first 3D game I played with it. The difference between DirectX and Glide those days was abysmal. DirectX used to be nothing but a mockery. How things can change.

I remember getting the 3Dfx Voodoo Banshee when I was in middle school and telling everyone it was the first real 2D/3D card of its time.

I had the one with two cores and 128MB of memory (maybe it was 64..).... oh the memories Before that I had the Canopus Pure3D

Of course! I still have the 5500. Lucky, it's the PCI version so I could still plug it in a modern computer. Well, before they stop putting old PCI ports I don't know about Windows 8, but fans were still making drivers for Vista and 7! Talk about love

I remember asking my dad to buy a Diamond Monster 3D I (4MB) card. Microsoft's Monster Truck Madness never looked better and never ran faster on my Pentium 100 with 8MB of RAM.

I think it cost between $130 and $190. I'd spent ages figuring out what card was the best and provided the most bang for the buck. The Voodoo2 wasn't out yet.

Now my CPU has more L3 cache than my first computer had total in RAM, and 12x more RAM than I had harddrive space. We won't talk about my grandparent's pre-consumer grade 286 DX12 with a turbo button. ;-)

I remember it all really happening at once, OS advancements, graphics advancements, high bitrate digital audio, the internet and seamless networking!

I had bought a *second tier* 3dfx Voodoo Graphics card under the Best Data brand (it was actually sourced from Diamond Multimedia. which sold 3dfx cards under the Monster 3D and Monster 3D II imprints). I do still have (and it still works) an actual Diamond Monster 3D II (specifically, a 12 MB Revision E).