|Founded||1990Hillsboro, Oregon, United States,|
Thrustmaster is an American designer, developer and manufacturer of joysticks, game controllers, and steering wheels for PCs and video gaming consoles alike. It has many licensing agreements with third party, prestigious brands such as Ferrari, TOP GUN, Beretta, Splinter Cell, and the U.S. Air Force as well as licensing some products under Xbox license. Thrustmaster also has a range of PlayStation licensed wheels. Thrustmaster has developed a new range of communication products appealing to the growing internet telephone market. Currently, they have two packs of accessories available: the Internet Phone & Video Kit and Internet Phone Kit.
Norm Winningstad helped found Thrustmaster in 1990 in Hillsboro, Oregon. By early 1991 the company began advertising the Thrustmaster Weapons Control System in computer magazines. It worked mainly on developing flight control for simulation on IBM Compatible Computers. The company has utilized the HOTAS system for use in computer flight simulation and has modeled some controllers after flight controls of real aircraft. The company made their name in making the expensive but high quality HOTAS controllers in middle 1990s. By 1995, its sales grew to $15 million, and then to $25 million by 1998.
In July 1999, the gaming peripherals operations and brand name was acquired from Thrustmaster for $15 million by the Guillemot Corporation Group of France (which also bought Hercules Computer Technology that same year).
Formerly one of their most expensive joysticks is the HOTAS Cougar, a close but not exact reproduction of both the throttle and stick that is used in the real F-16 fighter aircraft. The product features all-metal construction and numerous programming possibilities but is hampered by low-quality potentiometers, leading to a thriving replacement industry. Some of the devices have had reported quality problems, including play in the centering springs and the tendency of the speedbrake switch to break due to a manufacturing defect (this has been fixed on later serial numbers).
Many independent companies[who?] have produced replacement components for the Cougar to address these issues. These include redesigned gimbals that center more firmly, contactless potentiometers to replace worn originals, and even several force-controlled mods that make the stick sense pressure without moving (similar to an F-16 stick). Besides fixing complaints with the original product, these aftermarket parts have the potential to extend the life of the Cougar well past the time when Thrustmaster stops supporting it, but usually at double, even triple the price of the original purchase. However, the market for such mods tends to be limited, and many customers keep their Cougars as they came from the factory.
The HOTAS Cougar was replaced by the HOTAS Warthog in 2010, which replicates the flight controls used in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, using Hall effect sensors for the joystick and throttle axes instead of potentiometers.
- "Norm Winningstad, high-tech pioneer and philanthropist in Oregon, dies at 85". The Oregonian. November 24, 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
- "Enjoy the Best in Authentic Response". Computer Gaming World (advertisement). January 1991. p. 59. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Guillemot Corporation -- Company History". www.company-histories.com. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- "Falcon 4.0: Allied Force". CBS News.