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Dave's Place: CD-i's way to meet with the Internet

>> Monday, June 11, 2007

Do you remember Philips was the first company to connect a videoconsole to the internet, giving you the ability to browse the Internet on your TV set? Philips investigated the possibility of Online features of the CD-i early in the lifespan of CD-i. The catalogues hinted at the arrival of the Tele CD-i Assistant, a device that was later changed into a fully functional modem. It was SPC Vision who drawed the first lines to connect CD-i to the internet, which you can read in this article. Lost Boys, The team who brought us The Lost Ride, later in 1996 released the first version of the CD-Online Web Browser. CD-Online was born in Europe.

It was SPC Vision who had the first experience with CD-i and the Internet. Although Lost Boys developed the consumer cd-i websurfing tools, it was SPC who prototyped the idea. Their first version did not support graphics but half of the Philips Media crew were eagerly using the demo disc on the SPC modem-account. However, when it had to be developed for the commercial market, Lost Boys was again signed to develop it. Another dead end for the mighty SPC crew! A decision made by the all mighty Philips, who already had close contacts with Lost Boys and granted them the project to release a set of CD-Online discs to the market.

This disc contains a simple text-only WWW browser that connects to the Internet using SLIP over a serial line connected to a modem. Although the disc was set up to use NLnet, there is nothing NLnet-specific on the disc except some configuration information. The CD-i Internet Demonstration disc can still be used today, as shown by the photographs (see the Links below for more information). Instead of a modem, a direct connection to a PC running RedHat Linux was used. The disc supports the CD-i KeyControl keyboard although it didn’t even exist at the time! The demo disc was originally intended to be used with a professional CD-i keyboard, but those were extremely rare even in those days.

The Tele CD-i Assistant has also a little more history. Philips partnered in 1992 with Amsterdam based CDMATICS to develop TeleCD-i (also TeleCD). In this concept the CD-i player is connected to a network (PSTN, Internet or other) enabling data-communication and rich media presentation. Dutch grocery chain Albert Heijn and mail-order giant Neckermann Shopping were early adopters and introduced award-winning TeleCD-i applications for their home-shopping and home-delivery services. CDMATICS also developed the special Philips TeleCD-i Assistant and a set of software tools helping the worldwide multimedia industry to develop and implement TeleCD-i. TeleCD-i was the world's first networked multimedia application at the time of its introduction. In 1996, Philips acquired source code rights from CDMATICS. Unfortunately, The Tele CD-i Assistant was never fully released to the market, but overruled by the Internet Kit, developed by Philips and Lost Boys.

While Philips introduced the CD-Online service in Europe; The United States got their own version of the Online software: Web-i was born. In general, the service was the same but the software was different, and while CD-i was long dead even before Philips launched the Internet tools, it remains unknown in what form and for how long Web-i continued service for the consumer market. The review offered by CD-i Collective is based on the Web-i system, if you want to get an idea.

Announced August 1995, the first release of the CD-Online browser was released in February 1996. The CD-i Keyboard, going strong with the name "KeyControl" wasn't available yet so navigating was a little clumsy. CD-Online started in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands followed in May 1996. You needed a Digital Video Cartridge to use the extra memory which was highly needed for browsing online. To get things rolling, Philips and Lost Boys filled the CD-Online disc full with demos, videos and screens so you didn't have to download them, but a link on the website gave acces to this content. A sneaky way to pretend CD-i internet was a fast downloading service! Let alone this fact, it was just very smart to do it this way.

How did it work? The Internet Kit was a big box holding the modem in the first place, which was clocked at 14.4 kbps. Mind you, even in 1996 this was slow, and 28.8 was the standard and even 56.6 was available. Still, Philips chose to go for a standard speed of 14.4 kbps. Maybe this was limited by the hardware limitations of the CD-i, but anyway this was a real let down for the CD-i Internet feature. The modem had to be connected via the connector port on the back, the so called "I/O serial port". If you owned a 4xx player, like the 450 or the 470, there is no seperate second controller port available and you needed the additionally available port splitter to connect the CD-i modem to the CD-i player.

Philips introduced CD-Online to the public by means of Dave, a character featuring in videos on the CD-Online disc and the name of the webmaster of CD-Online. In this way, Philips used Dave to let people know new links, new websites and new updates about CD-Online. Every owner of a CD-i player in 1996 got a free demo CD featuring Dave explaining the benefits of browsing the internet without leaving your chair. The CD-Online website offered a special Dave's Place with contests, questions, tips, etcetera.

One year later, Lost Boys presented the second CD-Online disc, featuring again a lot of new content like videos and offline articles. Also, the disc hosted the first online CD-i game RAM RAID, something you've read about a couple of weeks ago at Interactive Dreams. Apparently, Philips planned to bring more online versions of games on CD-i, but they decided to drop the format before anything of this materialized.

CD-Online was meant to survive CD-i. That's a remarkable claim but actually made by Philips when they realized CD-i wasn't the big future they hoped for. Philips continued to develop seperate settop boxes for TV's offering the CD-Online service without an actual CD-i player. Unfortunately, CEO Boonstra decided to cut off all media activities, and everything related to it was shut down or sold.

Practically, Internet via CD-i was a slow service, and comparable how you can browse the Internet using the Nintendo DS. Innovative, but again, it was far ahead of its time. Recently we had an interesting discussion if and how we could get the CD-i back online. Later iterations like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are offering the same kind of service and succeeding pretty well. Thank you, Philips.

4 reacties:

Anonymous,  June 12, 2007 at 7:26 PM  

holy cow, internetting on a cdi player! Does the modem make the same irritating noise when dialing? I hate those modems :( Cool feature though ;)

mammoth,  September 5, 2007 at 6:51 PM  

Anyone out there that used cd-online?

David,  September 5, 2007 at 7:43 PM  

yeah, me. It was expensive, and slow. But it was on television! There were even websites exclusive for CD-online, and not all WWW sites were accessible. Still, it was cool!

mammoth,  September 19, 2007 at 7:43 PM  

I remember the posters on the cd-online newsgroup as being a friendly bunch. Almost like a club!

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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