Last updated
IndustryComputer & game console peripherals
Founded1990;30 years ago (1990), Hillsboro, Oregon, United States
Headquarters Carentoir, France
ProductsSteering wheel, joysticks, gamepads
Parent Guillemot Corporation
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Thrustmaster is a designer, developer and manufacturer of joysticks, game controllers, and steering wheels for PCs and video gaming consoles alike. It has licensing agreements with third party brands as Ferrari, Gran Turismo and the U.S. Air Force as well as licensing some products under Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox license.



A Thrustmaster T.16000M joystick (2009) Thrustmaster T16000M 7937.jpg
A Thrustmaster T.16000M joystick (2009)

Norm Winningstad helped found Thrustmaster in 1990 in Hillsboro, Oregon. [1] 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. [2]

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 and merged the 2 companies in a company called Hercules Thrustmaster, with headquarters in Carentoir, France, while keeping the 2 brands separate). [2]

The new Thrustmaster company gradually extended the product portfolio beyond flight simulation to other simulation peripherals for PC, PlayStation and Xbox consoles:

In 2019, Thrustmaster turnover is €59 millions (US$ 66 millions). [3]

HOTAS Cougar

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. [4] 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.

Related Research Articles

Joystick Control lever used in aircraft and video games

A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. A joystick, also known as the control column, is the principal control device in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or side-stick. It often has supplementary switches to control various aspects of the aircraft's flight.

A game controller, gaming controller, or simply controller, is an input device used with video games or entertainment systems to provide input to a video game, typically to control an object or character in the game. Before the seventh generation of video game consoles, plugging in a controller into one of a console's controller ports were the primary means of using a game controller, although since then they have been replaced by wireless controllers, which do not require controller ports on the console but are battery-powered. USB game controllers could also be connected to a computer with a USB port. Input devices that have been classified as game controllers include keyboards, mouses, gamepads, joysticks, etc. Special purpose devices, such as steering wheels for driving games and light guns for shooting games, are also game controllers.

<i>Microsoft Flight Simulator</i> Windows based flight simulator software

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Ground control station

A ground control station (GCS) is a land- or sea-based control center that provides the facilities for human control of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. It may also refer to a system for controlling rockets within or above the atmosphere, but this is discussed elsewhere.

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Analog stick Input device for a video game controller

An analog stick, sometimes called a control stick or thumbstick, is an input device for a controller that is used for two-dimensional input. An analog stick is a variation of a joystick, consisting of a protrusion from the controller; input is based on the position of this protrusion in relation to the default "center" position. While digital sticks rely on single electrical connections for movement, analog sticks use continuous electrical activity running through potentiometers to measure the exact position of the stick within its full range of motion. The analog stick has greatly overtaken the D-pad in both prominence and usage in console video games.

Mad Catz video game accessories company

Mad Catz Global Limited is an American company that provides interactive entertainment products marketed under Mad Catz, GameShark and TRITTON. Mad Catz developed flight simulation software through its internal ThunderHawk Studios, developed chess hardware and flight simulation under its Saitek brand, published games under its Mad Catz brand, and distributed games and video game products for third-party partners. The company was incorporated in Canada and headquartered in San Diego, California. Mad Catz had offices in North America, Europe and Asia.

Yoke (aeronautics) aircraft component

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Combat flight simulators are simulation video games used to simulate military aircraft and their operations. These are distinct from dedicated flight simulators used for professional pilot and military flight training which consist of realistic physical recreations of the actual aircraft cockpit, often with a full-motion platform.

Saitek was a designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics founded in 1979 by Swiss technologist Eric Winkler. They are best known for their PC gaming controllers, mice, keyboards, and their numerous analogue flight controllers such as joysticks, throttles, and rudder pedals.

Hercules Computer Technology manufacturer of computer peripherals for PC and Mac

Hercules was a manufacturer of computer peripherals for PC and Mac.

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Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation is the seventh installment of the Ace Combat franchise, developed by Project Aces and published by Namco Bandai Games, and released in October 2007 for the Xbox 360, as well as being made backwards compatible on Xbox One in January 2019. It is the first game in the franchise to be released exclusively for the Xbox 360, rather than a PlayStation platform as had been done with previous titles, and the first to include online multiplayer modes and downloadable content. Like other titles in Namco's Ace Combat series, Ace Combat 6 features standard gameplay from the series that mixes arcade flight with authentic flight simulation.

Racing wheel Video game controller

A racing wheel is a method of control for use in racing video games, racing simulators, and driving simulators. They are usually packaged with a large paddle styled as a steering wheel, along with a set of pedals for gas, brake, and sometimes clutch actuation, as well as various shifter controls. An analog wheel and pedal set such as this allows the user to accurately manipulate steering angle and pedal control that is required to properly manage a simulated car, as opposed to digital control such as a keyboard. The relatively large range of motion further allows the user to more accurately apply the controls. Racing wheels have been developed for use with arcade games, game consoles, personal computers, and also for professional driving simulators for race drivers.

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Norm Winningstad Businessman, engineer

C. Norman (Norm) Winningstad was an American engineer and businessman in the state of Oregon. A native of California, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II before working at what is now Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. After moving north to Oregon, he started working for Tektronix before starting several companies in what became the Silicon Forest in the Portland metropolitan area. He founded or helped to found Floating Point Systems, Lattice Semiconductor, and Thrustmaster. Winningstad and his wife were also noted philanthropists in the Portland area, with a theater at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts named in his wife Dolores' honor.


  1. "Norm Winningstad, high-tech pioneer and philanthropist in Oregon, dies at 85". The Oregonian . November 24, 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  2. 1 2 "Guillemot Corporation -- Company History". Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  3. "Guillemot Corporation -- Turnover 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  4. "Falcon 4.0: Allied Force". CBS News.