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. Very recently teaming up with Skype. 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.
In 1999, Thrustmaster became a part of the Guillemot Corporation Group, in France.
In addition to PC, Thrustmaster also produces racing peripherals for PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Formerly one of their most expensive joysticks is the HOTAS Cougar, an exact reproduction of both the throttle and stick that is used in the real F-16 fighter aircraft. The product features rugged all-steel 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 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 (like a real 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.