One of the most valuable graphical features on early computers that had it, was hardware scrolling, that allowed the horizontal position of the screen to be adjusted by one or more pixels, thereby allowing horizontal scrolling to be done more easily than by bit-shifting every byte in the frame buffer or tile bitmaps. The Atari 800 and Commodore 64 had this feature; it greatly improved their quality as game platforms. And it was, as I understand it, cheap to implement (being mostly an 8-bit shift register and some control logic).

Was this technique ever patented? If so, when and by whom?

  • 5
    Hardware-assisted scrolling of displays existed before home computers, for example the VT100's "smooth scroll". Admittedly the examples I can think of were vertical scrolling, but I can't see that horizontal scrolling is fundamentally different.
    – dave
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 21:46
  • 5
    Standard controllers like Motorola 6845 or Intel 8275 did already support hardware scroll in 1977 which by that time was already old - after all, each and every terminal could scroll on it's own :))
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 22:02
  • 2
    LInk to 2019 question about 8275, though no specific details on scrolling.
    – dave
    Commented Jul 30, 2023 at 22:08
  • 6
    Smooth scrolling on a VT100 seemed sexy, but it was so damned slow, I quickly started turning it off on any terminal I touched.
    – dave
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 0:00
  • 4
    @another-dave yes, nice to look at but sucking when doing real work. A waste of time, like much later some OS animated windows growing in stages instead of simply popping up.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 0:54


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