An image processing and display system employs a high speed image local area network (LAN) for transferring image data separate from control data. A general purpose LAN carries graphics data and control data of the system. One more image display controller than display monitor is used to provide off line processing of images prior to display of the images. An analog cross bar switch provides the necessary connections between image display controllers and the display monitors to provide the desired views of selected images. Images are initially provided to the system from an image archive in a compressed manner. The images are decompressed and held in a local cache. With respect to each word of image data, different bytes of the word are compressed by different compression schemes to optimize transfer time of image data. A method is employed for transparently sharing a high perfomance image archive processor among various workstations of display monitors.