CD-i Console

The Philips CD-i (Compact Disc Interactive) is an interactive multimedia CD player developed and marketed by Royal Philips Electronics N.V. This category of device was created to provide more functionality than an audio CD player or game console, but at a lower price than a personal computer with a CD-ROM drive at the time. The cost savings were due to the lack of a hard drive, floppy drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor (a standard television is used), and less operating system software.

In addition to games, educational and multimedia reference titles were produced, such as interactive encyclopedias, museum tours, etc., which were popular before public Internet access was widespread. Competitors included the Tandy VIS and Commodore CDTV.

CD-i also refers to the multimedia Compact Disc standard used by the CD-i console, also known as Green Book, which was developed by Philips and Sony (not to be confused with MMCD, the pre-DVD format also co-developed by Philips and Sony). Work on the CD-i began in 1984 and it was first publicly announced in 1986. The first Philips CD-i player, released in 1991 and initially priced around US$700, was capable of playing interactive CD-i discs, Audio CDs, CD+G (CD+Graphics), Karaoke CDs, Photo CDs and Video CDs (VCDs), though the latter required an optional “Digital Video Card” to provide MPEG-1 decoding.

Seen as a game console, the CD-i format proved to be a commercial failure. The device was sold until 1998, aside claims that Philips had planned a discontinuation in 1996. The company lost nearly one billion dollars on the entire project. The failure of the CD-i caused Philips to leave the video game industry after it was discontinued.

The CD-i is also one of the earliest consoles to implement internet features, including subscriptions, web browsing, downloading, e-mail, and online play. This was facilitated by the use of an additional hardware modem that Philips released in 1996 for $150.

While video game consoles have been made by Japanese companies (and to lesser extent American companies), the CD-i is one of the very few created by a European company.


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