Gravis Analog Joystick

Dublin Core


Gravis Analog Joystick


hardware: game controller


Historical Context

In the last two decades of the last century, personal computer industry was making rapid technological advances which, among other innovations, included the development of high performing input devices (such as game controllers) as well as sound and video cards. Array Technology Inc. (or ATI, founded in 1985), Creative Technology (1981), Logitech International (1981), Matrox Graphics (1976), and NVIDIA (1993) can serve as examples of world's leading manufacturers of such products.

In Canada, several companies besides ATI and Matrox successfully designed and manufactured input devices and add-on cards for personal computers. One of such companies was Gravis Computer Peripherals Inc. (Gravis) founded in 1982 in Burnaby, British Columbia. In 1985, the company was renamed as International Gravis Computer Technology Inc. and, after amalgamation with Abaton Resources Ltd. in 1987, the company changed its name to Advanced Gravis Computer Technology, Ltd. In 1997, Gravis was acquired by Kensington Computer Products Group which incorporated the Gravis brand of entertainment gamepads and joysticks into its line of products.

The "Company Background" published on Gravis' ftp site in 1997, described the company's origins this way

"Gravis originated in 1979 from the passion for computer games shared by two childhood friends, Grant Russell and Dennis Scott-Jackson. They soon found the joysticks and paddles on the market did not provide real arcade feel or precision, and they typically broke down within weeks of intensive game use. This started them on the quest to build a better joystick."

In the period between 1985 and 1997, Gravis designed and manufactured several award-winning joysticks and game pads for desktop computers offered by companies such as Amiga, Apple, Atari, Commodore, IBM, and Tandy. Its first product was the Gravis Analog Joystick introduced in 1985 which quickly became a popular choice among computer gamers. The Gravis PC GamePad offered in 1991 was equally successful (adopted by many electronic entertainment companies such as Nintendo and Sega) and so was the Firebird programmable game controller offered in 1996.

By 1996, the number of storefronts carrying Gravis products crossed 11,000 worldwide making the company one of the world's largest suppliers of computer joysticks and gamepads (according to some reports, e.g. by PC Data).

The Gravis Analog Joystick was introduced in 1985 for a range of personal computers including the IBM and compatibles as well as the Tandy and the Apple II lines of computers. It was equipped with a handle tension adjustment wheel and three buttons, each with an individual "Button Function Selector" allowing each button to be configured as Button 1, Button 2, or turned off. In the 1990s, the joystick was sold with Game Utilities software that included a free copy of Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons, Episode One "Marooned on Mars," a highly successful game published by Apogee Software Productions.

The museum has a Gravis Analog Joystick manufactured in 1990, Gravis Utilities software, and documentation.


Advanced Gravis Computer Technology Ltd.






Advanced Gravis Computer Technology Ltd., “Gravis Analog Joystick,” York University Computer Museum Canada, accessed May 28, 2023,

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