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Thread: The First "Graphics Card"

  1. #1
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    Default The First "Graphics Card"

    I'm working on a little video of my SWTPC GT-6144 board, and I'm trying to figure out how to place it in the big scheme of things.

    I know computer generated graphics were developed eons before the GT-61 came out in 1976. But I'm wondering, could I say that it the first *ever* graphics card or board that you could add on to a computer for graphics (not text, obviously cards like the VDM-1 beat it there)?

    I've looked on many, many, many (many) sites. Those that take a stab at the first 'graphics card' point to the IBM Monochrome graphics card in 1981.

    I realize that semantics make something like this infinitely contestable. What is the 'first' of anything depends on how you define it. Ie. does 'graphics card' only mean a card you plug into a computer that becomes integral to it? Or can it apply to something like the GT-61, which SWTPC called a 'graphics terminal' and had its own PSU and communicated via parallel. Could we call it a 'graphics board'? 'Graphics system'?

    I'm trying to make the case that the GT-61 is the first add-on card or board for graphics on a home computer. That's my qualifier. I'm wondering if anything else came before that we know of.

  2. #2

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    "Cromemco's Dazzler (or TV DAZZLER) was a graphics card for S-100 bus computers. Released in 1976, it is the first commercial color bit-mapped graphics card available for microcomputers."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromemco_Dazzler


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    If you are willing to look at larger hardware, the DEC VT-11 was a three board graphics add-on to the PDP-11 line. Probably not the earliest but an early one I remember. The VT-11 manual on Bitsavers is dated 1974 but I think the board design was a bit older than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vwestlife View Post
    "Cromemco's Dazzler (or TV DAZZLER) was a graphics card for S-100 bus computers. Released in 1976, it is the first commercial color bit-mapped graphics card available for microcomputers."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cromemco_Dazzler

    I forgot about the Dazzler. Now I'm really gonna have to dig on the GT-6144... I haven't been able to locate the specific date it became available other than that the year was also 1976.

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    Quote Originally Posted by krebizfan View Post
    If you are willing to look at larger hardware, the DEC VT-11 was a three board graphics add-on to the PDP-11 line. Probably not the earliest but an early one I remember. The VT-11 manual on Bitsavers is dated 1974 but I think the board design was a bit older than that.
    I think I'm sticking, for simplicity's sake, with home microcomputers.

    It looks like the Dazzler was described in Popular Electronics in Feb 1976.. and announced in late 1975. The trick is figuring out when the GT6144 was developed and when exactly in 1976 it was released.

    Are there any other graphics boards anyone knows of... color or mono that came out in this period?

  6. #6

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    I don't know where it would fit on the timeline, but wasn't there a Micro-Angelo board or some such for maybe s100 systems?

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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by falter View Post
    I forgot about the Dazzler. Now I'm really gonna have to dig on the GT-6144... I haven't been able to locate the specific date it became available other than that the year was also 1976.
    This particular one is not the original font, this is a later version. Plus the original Dazzler is made up of two boards.
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    Default

    Crikey-1960s at least: See for example.

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