So, what did these engineers do with the old hardware once they finished testing? Did they just toss them in the trash? Did they send them on a slow boat to China to sit at an e-waste facility? Nope, they've been stored in boxes "in someone else's office" over the years, separated by the year they were released (and/or tested).
Rather than taking up valuable office space in boxes stacked up in the floor, the DirectX team instead decided to create what they call the "Wall of GPU History" in of the main hallways in their office complex. Hundreds of GPUs are represented (402 to be exact) dating back 35 years in PC history, which puts us right at around 1983.
When you think about it, it's a brilliant idea and a great way to not only "recycle" otherwise long forgotten hardware, but to also pay homage to the graphics "legends" that helped pave the way for today's PC graphics monsters from AMD (formerly ATI) and NVIDIA -- the two primary survivors of what was once a thriving industry filled with lots of high-powered competitors like 3Dfx, 3Dlabs, Rendition, Matrox, and PowerVR.
Taking a look through some of the graphics cards highlighted on the wall, we can see some real gems like IBM's CGA (Color Graphics Adapter), one of the very first 3Dfx Voodoo cards released by Diamond back in 1996, a 3Dfx Voodoo Rush (haha, let's just forget about that one), The NVIDIA GeForce 256 with its T&L wizardry, the image quality king Matrox G400, and the long-forgotten PowerVR Kyro 1.
If we have two criticisms, it's that Microsoft didn't give us a full list of the graphics cards that they have plastered all over its office walls and that the resolution of the posted pictures is abysmal. Seriously, did they use a mid-2000's flip phone to take these pictures? But hey, beggars can't be choosers, and we applaud the DirectX team for giving us a little look into their world.
"It only covers discrete GPU configurations, because mobile parts and SoC components are less suitable for hanging on a wall," wrote Microsoft's Shawn Hargreaves. "We think it’s pretty cool – check it out if you ever have a reason to visit the D3D team in person!"
You can check out all of the graphics glory right here at the DirectX Developer Blog.