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Number Nine

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Number Nine was founded in 1982 by Andrew Najda and Stan Bialek as Number Nine Computer Corporation. The company was renamed Number Nine Visual Technology Corporation in the early 1990s.

Number Nine Visual Technology is a leading supplier of high-performance visual technology solutions, including video/graphics accelerator subsystems, chips and productivity-enhancing software. Number Nine is one of the first companies to offer its users drivers certified by Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL). The company is a pioneer in PC graphics, delivering the first 128-bit graphics accelerator, the first 256-color and 16.8 million-color cards, and three consecutive lines of 128-bit graphics chips and boards.

History

Founded in 1982, Number Nine first made its mark with a CPU accelerator board for one of the first personal computers, the Apple II. The Number Nine Apple Booster increased the Apple's CPU speed from 1 MHz to an amazing 3.5 MHz (astounding at that time) by enhancing the processing power of the CPU.

Subsequently, Number Nine turned to focus its expertise and resources on driving the advancement of visual technology in desktop computing. The result of this focus has brought to market successive generations of visual subsystems for IBM-compatible PCs and Apple Macintosh computers.

In 1983, as IBM introduced their first color graphics adapter (CGA), with a display resolution of 320 x 200 in 16 colors, the Number Nine Graphics System could support a display resolution of 1024 x 768 - making it the first high resolution graphics card for the PC.

In 1984, Number Nine introduced the Revolution 512x8, the world's first 256 color graphics controller card. This was followed shortly thereafter by the Revolution 512x32, the world's first "true-color" graphics card for the PC. True-color is defined as 16.7 million colors, the supposed maximum number of colors that can be detected by the human eye. To put things into perspective, IBM had just introduced the PGA standard which could display 16 colors at 640 x 400.

In 1986, Number Nine launched the first co-processor-based graphics accelerator, the Pepper. The Pepper series were the first boards in the world to be fitted with a dedicated graphics processor, a powerful 40 MHz Texas Instruments TMS-34010 chip. This chip was, in itself, a computer that could be programmed specifically to take advantage of graphics display functions. A dedicated graphics co-processor off-loaded graphically intensive operations from the host computer, freeing it to handle the currently loaded application. This technology advanced the graphics display industry by creating an affordable solution for users in any design field where color, clarity, and processing power were all critical elements.

The next generation Pepper Pro1280 provided resolutions up to 1280 x 1024, with true-color display. Almost three years after it's introduction, the Pepper Pro1280 was honored with Byte Magazine's "Best High Resolution Graphics Board Award" in one of their first comparative roundups of the world's best graphics accelerators.

During this time, Number Nine was working with the emerging Microsoft Corp. to develop some of the first drivers for Windows 1.0. At that time, it was customary for developers of application software to write specific device drivers for each graphics board they wished to support in their application. To alleviate programming redundancy, Number Nine created our own graphics operating system called NNios (Number Nine Intelligent Operating System). NNios was resolution, color and even processor independent. NNios was a unique innovation in graphics display programming, and offered developers assurance that a single driver would support multiple boards.

The core strategy of Number Nine's development has been to outpace the demands of operating systems and applications, and therefore remain at the forefront of technology. The arrival of Microsoft Windows 3.0 in 1990 marked a turning point for Number Nine. The long-awaited graphical user interface (GUI) for PCs placed great demands on the CPU. The need for a boost in graphics performance sparked heavy interest in Number Nine's high-end graphics accelerator boards; and Number Nine products emerged as the fastest, most powerful visual accelerators in the industry, establishing Number Nine as the leader in graphics display technology.

With the proliferation of Windows based systems, the visual display market began rapidly expanding. Within this market, Number Nine identified the need for a broader range of graphics acceleration products. We expanded our product line to include more affordable solutions based on less expensive, mass-market chips.

S3, one of the primary players in the graphics chip market, became our first chip partner, providing us with chips for our new boards designed for mid-range, mainstream markets. Number Nine's first mainstream graphics board, the #9GXE™, was based on the S3 928 processor. It supported 1280 x 1024 in a non-interlaced mode. For almost six months, the #9GXE was the fastest Windows accelerators on the market.

Based on the success of the #9GXE, Number Nine continued to design boards with graphics chip technology from S3. Early in 1994, Number Nine introduced the first low-cost, 64-bit DRAM accelerator card. The market acceptance of 64-bit graphics was very rapid; and graphics accelerators became a well-known, highly desirable add-on product.

As the world's major graphics vendors began to develop 64-bit graphics boards, Number Nine was already building the next wave of visual technology - the world's first 128-bit graphics solution. It leap-frogged and stunned the rest of the industry, as they introduced their 64-bit technologies. The technology was more than a powerful graphics chip, it was an architecture, and it was called Imagine™.

With Imagine, Number Nine had developed not only a chip, but an entire graphics architecture. It worked so well, and was so fast, that it was awarded Byte Magazine's "BEST OF COMDEX" award for best peripheral product, upon introduction. Twelve years after starting a graphics revolution, Number Nine eclipsed the current state-of-the-art in graphics technology with our 128-bit development. That year, the Company's revenues jumped an astounding 160 percent.

For its first 12 years, Number Nine thrived as a private organization, funded solely by its operations and two founders, Andy Najda and Stan Bialek. Late in 1994, the Company received $15 million in venture capital, the third largest infusion of capital in the New England area; and in May 1995, Number Nine went public on the NASDAQ (NINE).

Performance That Keeps Getting Better

Number Nine's 128-bit architecture is the only graphics architectures that "scales" with faster computer and operating systems. This means that as operating systems and CPU technologies improve, our 128-bit products are already built to utilize faster processing, automatically optimizing your system.

For example, Windows NT 4.0 has effectively widened the performance delta between Number Nine's 128-bit products and leading 64-bit graphics accelerators, precisely because our board designs target 32-bit operating systems.

A compelling testimony came in the February 20, 1996, issue of PC Magazine, in a review of 101 of the industries top high-performance desktop computers. Each of the three Editors Choices' computers used Number Nine's Imagine 128. PC Magazine editors wrote: "128-bit graphics make an impact. This graphics board has always been a strong performer on our tests, but its optimized Windows 95 driver made the difference in this review." And further, "Number Nine's Imagine 128... which features a sophisticated 128-bit graphics acceleration engine, yielded Graphics WinMark 96 scores, that were head and shoulders above the rest."

In addition to our powerful 128-bit 2D/3D drawing engines, Number Nine has incorporated a unique, dedicated 256-bit bit video engine to deliver the best video playback in the industry. This video engine can stretch tiny video clips in both X and Y direction to full screen. Small video clips scale smoothly up to full screen -- at any resolution - at any color depth, and maintain maximum frame. Once a video clip is scaled, the video engine then filters the result to eliminate blockiness and fat pixels normally associated with scaled video.

Products

Documentation