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The Matrix is the term the worldwide computer network is called in the Shadowrun setting. It was created after the Crash of 2029 which destroyed the old internet, as a completely Virtual Reality, icon and graphics -based network, because this was the only way the sheer amount of data traffic could be handled.

Cybertechnology eradicated the last vestiges of the computer virus and replaced the old telecommunications network with that become known as the Matrix[1].

The entire Matrix is composed of various Host Systems. People interact with this Matrix by using cyberterminals or cyberdecks.

The Birth and Death of the Internet[]

The Internet started pre-1980s with ARPAnet and NSFnet and the creation of TCI/IP for military and academic communication.

In the 1990s the World Wide Web is created. At this time the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is formed to attempt to keep the internet free from government and corporate control.[2]

In 2018 Dr. Hosato Hikita creates ASIST technology to make simsense virtual reality a reality.

In 2022 the The Internetwork Transmission Control Council (ITCC) is formed from the remains of the FCC to regulate communications which include the internet.

In 2024 the first U.S. Presidential Election is held over the Internet.

Between 2026 and 2029 cyberterminal technology which allows users to interface with networks using the central nervous system are prototyped. These early prototypes use a sensory deprivation tank, restraints to prevent the user from hurting themselves, and a room size computer.

In 2028 Echo Mirage is formed by the US government to create elite "cyber commandos" using cyberterminal technology.

On February 8, 2029, the first Matrix Crash happens. Echo Mirage is called in to action to defeat the Crash Virus. Half of the team was killed in the first encounter with the virus, with more casualties after.

On March 1, 2029, Major David Gavilan rebuild Echo Mirage reaching out into the private sector to find gifted students, hackers, and eccentric scientists to comprise the new team. They spent 5 months training and making new technology to combat the virus.

They engaged the Crash Virus on August 30. Four members died within 20 minutes of the first encounter however they were successful at damaging the virus.

They were able to completely wipe out the last traces of the virus by November 8, 2031. Only seven members survived.

The Matrix[]

In 2032, the Corporate Court takes control from the ITCC and starts rebuilding the global data network as a fully 3D virtual reality interface to take advantage of the new ASIST technology. This global data network becomes known as the Matrix. The Corporate Court Matrix Authority (CCMA) is created to regulate the Matrix.

In 2034, Matrix Systems releases the first cyberdeck called the Portal.

In 2036, the UCAS passes the 14 Amendment which establishes the Nation SIN Registry. This requires that all citizens must have an SIN.

In 2037, former members of the EFF start the Denver Data Haven.

In 2039, Fuchi sponsors the Universal Matrix Specifications conference where the Universal Matrix Standards (UMS) are adopted.

In 2047, the earliest known discovery of Otaku in Denver are found by Fuchi.[3]

In 2049 the first Semi-Autonomous Knowbot is released by Renraku.

In 2050 Renraku's Semi-Autonomous Knowbot that was running the Matrix network for the Renraku Arcology (which was still under construction) meets Dodger and becomes selfaware, becoming the first known AI known as Morgan.

In 2052 Dr. Ronald Halberstam starts an experiment to raise children entirely in the Matrix virtual reality. To ensure they never get any physical stimulous the children are disembodied and their brains are put in to jars. They become known as Halberstam’s babies.

In 2058, Renraku was successful in capturing Morgan. They disect her code and use it to create a more advance SK to run the network of the Renraku Arcology. This SK is programmed to be loyal to Renraku. After the SK finds out that Inazo Aneki had kill switchs programmed into its source code it felt fear and betrayal which sparked it into sentience becoming a full AI. This AI would call itself Deus.

On December 19, 2059, Deus takes over Renraku Arcology.

March 19, 2060 the Seattle RTG goes down trapping Matrix users logged into the grid for 8 minutes. Unknown to the public this was an experiment done by Mirage to create more Otaku but also went wrong while Novatech researchers attempted to kill the AI. A group of deckers were able to convince Mirage to not kill itself and see the value of metahuman life. [4]

In 2061, the CCMA forms the Grid Overwatch Division (GOD) to police the Matrix in response to grid shut downs and the events of Renraku Arcology.

The Rise of Wireless[]

On November 2, 2064 Crash 2.0 happened, destroying most of the wired Matrix grid around the world.

Transys Neuronet and Erika had been working on wireless Matrix technology since 2058 and had plans to start to implement it in 2064, until the crash occurred. Both companies were going to merge into Novatech but lost a lot of face for being a part of Crash 2.0, in an indirect manner. Novatech rebranded itself as NeoNET and began to license its wireless technology and protocols to create the new wireless Matrix.

In early 2065 the Second Universal Matrix Conference is held to standardize the wireless technology that'd be used to create the new wireless Matrix.

Later in 2065 a researcher at Universität Stuttgart named Heinrich Andrews published a paper describing a technique to break any encryption. This effectively made all encryption breakable within seconds and became known as the "Heinrich Maneuver."[5]


The wireless Matrix was based off the concept of a mesh network. Where all devices are both a computer and a router. Data travels from device to device until it reaches its location. Because of the mesh nature of the wireless Matrix, the size and shape of the physical Matrix is always changing. The more devices in the area, the more effective bandwidth all those devices have making lag virtually a thing of the past.

The wireless Matrix also brought PANs (Personal Area Networks), a connection of wireless devices on a person that are all communicating to one another, AR (Augmented Reality) which allows virtual icons to overlay physical objects and locations called ARO (augmented reality objects; pronounced arrow), and a slew of script kiddy hackers.

The End to the Open Wireless[]

The Mega Corporations not enjoying how vulnerable their systems were with the new wireless Matrix; in 2075 had GOD begin rolling out a new wireless Matrix protocols that removed a lot of the vulnerabilities in the previous wireless Matrix implementation. The new wireless protocols were said to be unhackable. However a few shadowrunners were able to get hold of the specifications for the new cyberdeck technology that allows access to exploit and edit the new protocols and were able to release it into the shadow networks.

A change in the new Matrix was that to get on to the Matrix a user had to use a Matrix Service Provider's Grid. For low income users, there is still the free Public Grid which is much more unreliable and is said to be the "barrens" of the Matrix.

Each Grid now had a demiGOD, an agent of GOD whose sole purpose is to monitor illegal Matrix activity. All illegal activity will now flag a user with OS (Overwatch Score). Once a user's OS hits a certain threshold the demiGOD begins a process called convergence, which reboots a user's persona (dumping them from the Matrix) and reports their physical location to the grid's authorities.


  1. Shadowrun: First Edition, pp 6 (1989).
  2. o26531536Denver: The City of Shadows pp.72-3
  3. Psychotrope (ePub version) Location 1882
  4. Psychotrope ?
  5. o25199273Unwired p.67


  • The Term "Matrix" in the Shadowrun pen and paper roleplaying game isn't related in any way to the Matrix film series.


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