Thursday, May 6, 2021

Reader Question: "wait what? It was possible to get your CD-i online?"


Yes, it was. CD-i member Retrodetect made a nice overview on this topic in the past. This question was raised when the CD-i modem that you see below was posted. This US Robotics Modem remembered us of the same model which was used in the CD-i Online kit. For those who do not know, this is the UK modem that was supplied with the CD-Online Internet Kit, to get your CD-i player online between 1995-1998.CD-i member Retrodetect elaborates in this article about the possibilities of CD-i Online.

Philips had a good vision for the CD-i system and a number of things had been planned to help expand the usage and necessity of the console. One of these was the Online web browser bought to us by CD-Online. A service that claimed to connect over 10,000 subscribers, yet not many owners of the system remember its existence.   The CD-Online service first started on the 25th Oct 1995 and offered users the ability to further interact with certain web compatible games or titles. A special internet access cd was obtained to grant full internet access with the ability to surf the web and compose/read emails amongst other things. It was first a creation prototyped by SPC Vision, but then later on The Lost Boys development team (who had close connections already with Philips) who were given the task of bringing the WWW to the home consumer market.
Apparently in the UK the CD-Online package was not supplied with the Philips modem as we had in The Netherlands and the one that even used for the Web-i service in USA! In UK, the US Robotics Sportster was delievered together with the Internet package that CD-Online offered. In the UK this package was released earlier compared to other parts in Europe, so maybe they made the choice to switch to a Philips internal modem later on. It may be that CD-i Internet packages released any later were in fact supplied with the Philips modem, but we haven't found any confirmation of one of our members! 
The second edition of the CD-Online Disc (by Lost Boys, the team who brought us The Lost Ride) included a revolutionary game on CD-i: RAM RAID was an original first person shooter which could be played over the Internet, which was hot in 1996. Simply called "The Game" you could enter the demo room from the main menu. Unfortunately the CD-Online server is dormant these days so you are limited in playing the Practice levels of RAM RAID, which give you an idea how this was the top of CD-i gaming.

Yes, you could connect the CD-i player to a modem (a derival of the announced CD-i Interlink, a device that never was produced), clocked at 14k4 (can you imagine!). The modem made a connection to the internet and the CD-Online discs contained a browser to browse online. That was a great alternative to the PC which was at that time sometimes hard to follow. The modem was packaged in a so-called "CD-i Internet Kit", holding the modem (capable of 14.400 bps) and the disc itself. In Europe the service was called CD-Online, the USA had Web-i for this subscription. As Web-i never got off the ground in the USA, RAM RAID was only available in Europe from 1996 up to 2000, the year CD-Online closed down.
[Thanks, Retrodetect, Seventy7]


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