Matrox -- History
Matrox unlike most companies mentioned on this web site is still
around today. Matrox is a Canadian company based in Dorval, Quebec,
which produces video card components, boards and other equipment for
computers. It was founded by two guys Lorne Trottier and Branko Matić. The
"Ma" from Matić and "tro" from Trottier, combined with an "x" for
excellence, formed the Matrox name.
Matrox is in fact the umbrella name for two legal entities: Matrox Graphics
Inc., the entity most recognized by the public, for designing graphics cards
for over 30 years; the other entity is Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd., is a
company involved in imaging (designing frame grabbers hardware and software
editing etc.) for broadcast and video professional markets.
Matrox's very first graphics card product was the ALT-256 for S-100 bus
computers, released in 1978. The ALT-256 produced a 256 by 256 pixel
monochrome display by "racing the beam"; having the host CPU set registers
on the fly to produce bit patterns as the screen was being drawn. This mode
of operation meant the ALT-256 required no frame buffer. An expanded version
followed, the ALT-512. It was available for the S-100 bus and Intel's
Multibus as well.
Through the 1980s, Matrox's cards followed changes in the hardware side of
the market, to Multibus and then the variety of PC standards. During the
1990s, Matrox's "Millennium" line of video cards were noted for their
exceptional 2D speed and visual quality. They had a wide following among
users willing to pay for a higher quality and sharper display. In 1994 they
introduced the Matrox Impression, an add-on card that worked in conjunction
with a Millennium card to provide 3D acceleration. The Impression was aimed
primarily at the CAD market but failed to make much of an impression on the
rapidly emerging 3D gaming market.
Matrox in the 1990's came out with numerous PC video cards aimed at the
gaming market but could never really catch up with others who already had a
head start. Companies like Nvidia and ATI simply had better
performance game video chips.
Since then, Matrox has shifted the focus of its card designs towards
specialized, niche markets, moving more deeply into enterprise, industrial,
and government applications.
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