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CD-i had a 6 year pre-launch period

>> Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It was something of a curiosity. Called CD-i or compact disk interactive, it was designed to be the biggest thing in the 1990’s and something that might eliminate the PC altogether. Who needed a computer when you could have this thing hooked to a regular TV set. In 1987 during the second CD-ROM conference sponsored by Microsoft when Microsoft was first a public company all of a sudden Philips announced this device. It was rather curious and I was actually chatting with Bill Gates at the time who was somewhat annoyed by the fact that this device was announced without his knowing anything at all about it being developing. I always sensed that keeping Gates out of the loop, even back then, was not a good concept. This is a story in the eyes of John C. Dvorak about the history of Philips CD-i.

The first specification for CDi said it would run on the Motorola 68000 family (68070) and utilize OS-9, one of the early real-time operating systems. The announcement was more of a salvo than anything solid. The idea was to create a disk format that could hold a combination of video, text, voice and still pictures. CD-ROM eventually did all this too killing any hopes for CDi. Worse, years would pass before anything actually shipped. It utilized what has become the “green book” standard. (Each CD standard is based on some colored book as a reference to the specifications).

In Japan the “usual suspects” had all jumped on the CDi bandwagon to get burned. Sony, Yamaha, Kyocera and others had all brought out a version of the system. All are now collectors items.In 1987 there were a few media mentions of the CDi standard but nobody got worked up about it. More interesting, at least at the CD-ROM conference, was the handy Microsoft Bookshelf product. It was first announced back then along with a curious product from General Electric/RCA called the Digital Video Interactive (DVI) system which put full motion video on the PC. DVI was quite the rage having come out of the Sarnoff labs. There was a huge buzz around this technology. You could tell at the time that CDi was going nowhere.

By November of 1988 Sony was now in the picture with Philips. Both companies released the official standard for this CDi technology. It would have 650 megabyte capacity with all sorts of odd features. For example there were four audio modes: digital audio, hi-fi, standard and speech. Apparently speech mode would record days worth of chatter. Both NTSC and PAL video was supported. During this same time period Intel bought the hyped DVI technology from GE and said it would compete with CDi.

By May of 1989 the buzz for CDi began to increase as Sony, Matsushita and Philips said they would begin to promote and market the devices. CDi, it was said, will surpass the capabilities of CD-ROM and leave it in the dust. Quoted in an old Newsbytes report, Gordon Stulberg, then chairman of American Interactive Media, claimed that the “technology will be the hottest thing in consumer electronics in the 1990s.”

In late 1990 Sony rolled out a portable prototype CDi device which has a small color 4-inch LCD monitor built-in. It was kind of interesting but the world was passing this product by as years have now passed since the CDi was first announced. In fact this product may be one of the first casualties of the shortening of product development cycles that began to emerge in the 1990’s.

It wasn’t until October of 1991 that the thing finally hit the store shelves. By then it was too late. The buzz, what little there was left, had evaporated. The devices were large and clunky and carried by outlets such as Sears and Radio Shack. The public was confused by the software since it looked like a CD-ROM (which was now entrenched) but wasn’t a CD-ROM. It virtually died right on the spot. The $800 price point didn’t help! Also the picture was muddy and the responsiveness was mediocre. It had nothing going for it.

Many of the titles were repurposed CD-ROM titles making the rationale for the system even weaker. Like any new technology though all sorts of people afraid that they would miss the “next big thing” were building support for the system. Hardware for the make was even invented so it could emulate a development system for CDi.

Ironically that same month another division of Philips brought out a line of computers utilizing CD-ROM and promoted as multimedia machines. No CDi units were available for this machine.

The CDi system never completely died off. Today there is a small contingent which trades games and some new CDi titles still appear. The CDi players are continue to be manufactured by various companies many as stand-alone LCD players. The recent popularity of Video CD’s has helped since the CDi can play a VCD. IN fact if you bought a CDi player today you’d discover that it can play the following disks: CD-i, CD-i Digital Video, CD-DA, CD+Graphics, Photo CD, and Video CD. The memory and processors have been improved too. In todays market I’m sure that a newcomer would find a CDi interesting and probably think it was some new idea. One thing for sure, its timing in the market could not have been worse.

Credits: Dvorak Uncensored

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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

  © Interactive Dreams Version 5 by The Black Moon Project 2013

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