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Philips CD-i 210/25 Multimedia 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 was used), and less operating system software.

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 after many delays in 1991 and initially priced around USD $700.

It is capable of playing interactive CD-i discs, Audio CDs, CD+G (CD+Graphics), Karaoke CDs, and Video CDs (VCDs), though the last requires an optional "Digital Video Card" to provide MPEG-1 decoding, as do some of the machine’s better games, this additional cost made the machine prohibitively expensive compared to rival systems, such as the Snes and Megadrive.

The CD-i proved to be a commercial failure in that market segment and some of its games are perceived to be among the worst ever made. Though this is usually by placing them in a modern context often in Youtube videos and online game sites, so is perhaps rather unfair. Philips ceased publishing video games for the platform in 1998.

Among the system’s weaknesses are just having 2 channels for sound, meaning that music for games must be in one, and sound effects in the other.

The machine is probably best known for being home to some Nintendo licensed games, products of a deal struck between the two companies when Nintendo cancelled a proposed CD drive for the SNES, three Zelda games and one featuring Mario were well received at the time, but thanks to internet folklore, they are often met with derision.


16-bit 68070 CISC Chip
Resolution: 384×280 to 768×560
CD-RTOS Operating System
1.5 MB of Main RAM

Date: 1991

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH54428. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

 Philips CD-i 210/25 Multimedia Console

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