>> Tuesday, December 18, 2007
In the early development-stage, changes looked very promising for CD-i: as almost all major consumer electronics companies announced plans to manufacture players or showed prototype models. Among those companies were Pioneer and Matsushita (Panasonic), but the players that they showed never went into production. Sony sold some portable CD-i players for a very short period of time in 1991. But in the end, Philips became the major backer of the CD-i system, supporting the system with software titles, authoring tools and some 20 or so models of CD-i players, which were produced until June 1999.
By then, CD-i had already disappeared from the consumer market for some years, but it was extensively used by a wide variety of companies in the professional field. Over the years, several companies joined Philips in producing players, or selling modified OEM-versions of existing players such a LG Electronics, Kyocera, Bang & Olufsen, Grundig, Digital Video Systems, NBS and Memorex.
Philips alone produced some 20 models of CD-i players, including consumer models to fit in a regular stereo system, mini CD-i players, portable CD-i players with and without a screen, stereo systems with an integrated CD-i player, TVs with an integrated CD-i player, professional CD-i players and special authoring CD-i players.
Philips sold various professional CD-i players next to the standard consumer models. Both types of players comply fully to the CD-i standard as defined in the Green Book and were based on the same CPU and audio and video ICs, but the professional players usually offered some extra features. There were professional players with an integrated floppy disk drive, parallel ports to connect a printer or ZIP-drive, SCSI-ports, Ethernet network connections or with up to 5 MB of extra RAM. Some players had a feature that enabled the users to customise the start-up screen of the player shell. Several professional players were especially made for CD-i development studios since they included input ports to connect an emulator to simulate the playback of a CD-i disc from an external hard disk for testing purposes.