Gameplayer takes you on a journey through computerland history to discuss the most influential 3D graphics cards in history. The story starts in 1995 with the NVIDIA NV1, one of the first complete 2D/3D graphics cores:
When the NV1 was launched, NVIDIA was not the all powerful 3D giant we’ve come to know and love today. In fact, the graphics giant was naught but a fledgling start-up company with a handful of employees and a technology roadmap that nearly cost them a shot at the big leagues. The NV1 was one of the earliest forms of a complete 2D/3D graphics core, and was unleashed on the consumer market tacked onto – among others – the popular Diamond Edge 3D card. It offered not only the delights of decent 3D acceleration, but managed to fit a 32-channel 350-MIPS audio engine and a joystick port all on the same sliver of PCB. It was in many respects the first real consumer 3D card, the beginning of a long journey for NVIDIA.
Check it out over here. The article is pretty long but definitely worth a read if you want to learn more about the history of the 3D graphics card.