The events of the Matrix trilogy happen in the sixth iteration of the Matrix computer simulation – here’s how and why the first one was created.

Discovering and understanding what the Matrix is was the starting point of The Matrix franchise. Released in 1999, The Matrix quickly became an instant classic not only for its groundbreaking special effects but also for its thought-provoking story. Behind the “bullet time” and “dodge this” moments was a complex sci-fi story that borrowed from different philosophical currents to pose the question of what it means for something to be real. Neo and those enslaved in the Matrix spent their entire lives taking their reality for granted, all because they could feel it, smell it, and touch it. However, in a Cartesian twist, The Matrix reveals none of it was real and it was only his own awareness that Neo could rely on. The shock of Keanu Reeves’ character upon being awakened shows how sordid and how advanced the Matrix mind-prison was. The scene in which Morpheus explains to Neo what the Matrix is very much sums up the film’s whole premise.


The events of The Matrix Revolutions end with the Matrix beginning its seventh iteration. The first attempt to create a prison for the mind was quite different from the one Neo, Trinity and Morpheus knew. While it is not possible to say for sure when the first Matrix was created, a solid estimate would be around 2199 – the year Morpheus mistakenly believes he is in. Following the events of the Machine War, the conflict between humans and machines caused the remaining military forces of the world to take one last, desperate measure against the machines: scorch the sky. Without sunlight to charge them, the machines had to look for a new form of energy: human beings. The horrifying process of being harvested to generate energy was too much for the human mind. That is why the machines created the Matrix, a virtual reality that would trick humans into thinking everything was fine.

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The Machines Created The Matrix To Make Humanity Docile

The Architect speaking with Neo in The Matrix Reloaded

The general concept of how the Matrix works did not change much with each iteration: every captured human had their consciousness plugged into a shared simulation in which all their perceptions were nothing more than lines of code being downloaded into their brain. However, the first Matrix was based on the misperception that humans wanted nothing more than perfection in every part of their lives. There were no struggles or challenges in the first Matrix created by the Architect, and the simulation was essentially paradise. However, as Agent Smith reveals to Morpheus in The Matrix, the results were disastrous as the human mind could not accept paradise as reality.

After a few more failed attempts to create the most productive Matrix possible, the intervention of the Oracle, a program with a greater degree of agency, helped the Architect create the Matrix shown in the films: a rather ordinary world set around the turn of the 21st century in which humans accepted living in a simulation. With just a few lines of dialogue, The Matrix was able to craft a rich world-building explanation involving the Matrix simulation and the war against the machines. Two decades later, The Matrix Resurrections introduced yet another iteration of the Matrix, one that was part of the Analyst’s plans, but which Trinity and Neo ultimately learned to control.

A Prequel Short Shows How And Why The Machines Made The Matrix

B166ER Trial in Animatrix

For fans who want to understand The Matrix beyond the movies, animated shorts help to fill in the gaps. From Animatrix, “The Second Renaissance,” available to watch on YouTube, allows fans a more complete picture of just how the Matrix began. In fact, it tracks the war between man and machine to the development of the Matrix itself.

As the story goes, humans took advantage of the machines they made, giving them the bulk of manual labor jobs. When the first machine was put on trial for murder (killing the owners who were going to destroy him), the real conflict between man and machine was born. There were some humans who believed that machines should be treated as equals since robotic beings were created in the image of man and programmed with the “soul of man.” The majority of humans, however, saw their creations as soulless beings they created to automate work.

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The massive disagreement between humans and machines would be the impetus for the creation of the first Matrix simulation. It meant that an all-out war began. Humans exhausted their supply of weapons against the machines, and machines ended up with no power source to continue their fight – unless they used their enemies themselves as a power source. The machines adapted to their new circumstance and the electrochemical reactions of the human brain became their source, and the first Matrix was born, leading the way to the movie franchise of The Matrix that fans know and love.

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