Microsoft’s awesome wall of graphics cards spans 35 years of GPU development

Images courtesy of Microsoft. Click for original. (Image credit: Microsoft)

It's a shame when older iterations of the best graphics cards get tossed in storage boxes and tucked away until they're long forgotten, or even worse, end up in a landfill. Rather than do that with graphics cards that have gone through Microsoft's offices through the past several decades, the company's Direct3D team tacked them to a wall.

"When you’ve been doing this for as long as we have, you’ll inevitably accumulate a LOT of cards left over from years gone by.  What to do with them all?  One option would be to store boxes in someone’s office. But it occured to us that a better solution would be to turn one of our hallways into a museum of GPU history," Microsoft's Shawn Hargreaves stated in a blog post.

According to Hargreaves, the wall contains 402 different GPUs spanning 35 years of hardware history. The collection is a mix of "mainstream successes, influential breakthroughs, and also many more obscure cards."

One of the oldest cards we see in the pictures (and perhaps the oldest of the bunch) is an IBM 1501486 XM, which is an 8-bit ISA color graphics adapter (CGA) card released way back in 1983. That card predates even The Simpsons, if perspective is needed, and released two years before Back to the Future hit the big screen.

A bit more recognizable is a Voodoo graphics card released in 1996, from before Nvidia acquired 3dfx. There's also a GeForce 256 (released in 1999) and a PowerVR Kyro 1 series 3 (released in 2000), among other recognizable GPUs from a much earlier era.

Unfortunately, Microsoft only shared a handful of photos, and they're all low resolution. However, the Direct3D team will apparently let you walk the hall and check them out if you ever visit the team in person.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).