The Quick and Dirty on Video Cards


Let’s get technical, technical, I wanna get technical, Let’s get into technical (sung to the tune of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”…seriously, go back and sing it!)  I hate that song, but it was the only opening I could think of… I guess that flu bug hit me harder than I thought.

We are going to take a look at a vital internal component to your computing life, the Video/Graphics Card (video and graphics are interchangeable in this instance).  The Video Card is the component in your computer that provides the ability to render 2D-3D visual representations of bits and bytes of data. What I find amazing is that less than 50 some years ago most visual representations for data were rendered by a dot matrix printer…do any of you remember that? It was like sitting by an M60 machine gun


I remember playing a Star Trek game on the school computer, typing in a command, hitting the enter key and then waiting for the result to be printed on the paper. The paper was fed into the printer through the bottom coming from a box of paper underneath the printer.

A video card is what gives your computer the ability to display on video screen data/electrical information in 2-3 dimensional manners. And they have been around since the 1980s, first introduced by IBM. It was a Monochrome Graphics Adapter and it rendered one color…green. It had an internal memory of 4 KB.

In the mid 90’s there was a pretty hefty advancement in Video Cards, the 1st 2D & 3D cards hit the market. As technology continued to improve DDR technology began being integrated into video cards and memory grew from 2MB, to 32MB, and eventually up to 128MB.

At its most basic level, a video card is a printed circuit board with components that are mounted to it.


The 1st video cards we added to motherboard via expansion slots (on the motherboard). In time the card became an integrated part of the motherboard. But as the technology evolved and power, memory and heat output increased you began to see video cards once again being added via expansion slots. This accommodated the addition of larger heat sinks and ever increasing video card sizes.

That’s a good, basic, no frills introduction to video cards. Not all that exciting to read or even research, but man alive did video cards change the world we live in. In the next few blogs we will look at the innards of a video card, and the different types of cards that available today. Until then, have a great day!