The demand for high-quality video cards for personal computers grows throughout the 1990s as game companies create games with more complex audio-visual requirements. Founded by three former Silicon Graphics employees, 3dfx designed chipsets to be used in graphics cards. Early success came in the form of arcade games using the Voodoo system, including hits like San Francisco Rush and Wayne Gretzky's 3D Ice Hockey. A failed attempted partnership with Sega to provide graphics cards for their Dreamcast game console, along with improved 3D graphics cards, led to the decline of 3dfx, which eventually sold all its intellectual property to Nvidia.
The use of computer game engines to create short films goes back to the 1980s Demoscene culture built around computers like the Commodore 64. As visual technology improved, many would-be filmmakers began to experiment with using game engines like Quake to make short films called machinima (Machine Cinema). While many other films had been created mostly to document gameplay, Diary of a Camper told a short story with a comedic punch line. Diary of a Camper was posted to newsgroups and other sites and is one of the best-known machinima pieces ever created.
Palm Inc., founded by Ed Colligan, Donna Dubinsky, and Jeff Hawkins, originally created software for the Casio Zoomer personal data assistant. The first generation of Palm-produced devices, the Palm 1000 and 5000, are based around a Motorola microprocessor running at 16MHz, and uses a special gestural input language called “Graffiti,” which is quick to learn and fast. Palm could be connected to a PC or Mac using a serial port to synchronize – “sync” – both computer and Palm. The company called it a ‘connected organizer’ rather than a PDA to emphasize this ability.
Sony had manufactured and sold computers in Japan, but the VAIO signals their entry into the global computer market. The first VAIO, a desktop computer, featured an additional 3D interface on top of the Windows 95 operating system as a way of attracting new users. The VAIO line of computers would be best known for laptops were designed with communications and audio-video capabilities at the forefront, including innovative designs that incorporated TV and radio tuners, web cameras, and handwriting recognition. The line was discontinued in 2014.
At the end of 1996, the 36 million Web users surpass the 30 million or so on France’s Minitel, until now the most popular online system. By decade’s end, the Web will hit 360 million. By 2010, two billion.