Tandy Video Information System
Tandy Memorex Visual Information System (VIS) was an interactive, multimedia CD-ROM player produced by the Tandy Corporation starting in 1992. It was similar in function to the Philips CD-i and Commodore CDTV systems (particularly the CDTV, since both the VIS and CDTV were adaptations of existing computer platforms and operating systems to the set-top-box design). The VIS systems were sold only at Radio Shack, under the Memorex brand, both of which Tandy owned at the time.
Modular Windows is a special version of Microsoft Windows 3.1, designed to run on the Tandy Video Information System. Microsoft intended Modular Windows to be an embedded operating system for various devices, especially those designed to be connected to televisions. However, the VIS is the only known product that actually used this Windows version. It has been claimed that Microsoft created a new, incompatible version of Modular Windows ("1.1") shortly after the VIS shipped. No products are known to have actually used Modular Windows 1.1.
- While Modular Windows was discontinued, other modular, embedded versions of Windows were later released. These include Windows CE and Windows XP Embedded.
- VIS applications could be written using tools and techniques similar to those used to write software for IBM PC compatible personal computers running Microsoft Windows. This concept was carried forward in the Microsoft Xbox.
- Unofficial practices have included using Windows computers with boxes that convert VGA to composite or S-video, though using a graphics card that has a composite or S-video output is more suited for gaming because of the extra time it takes a VGA converter to process the image. In recent times, it is more common for users to connect their computer to their television using standard VGA or HDMI, the former being possible since most newer TVs have a VGA input and the latter being due to the increasing presence of HDMI outputs on graphics cards.
Details of the system include:
- CPU: Intel 286 (Made by AMD)
- Video System: Cirrus Logic
- Sound System: Yamaha
- Chipset: NCR Corporation
- CDROM x2 IDE by Mitsumi
- OS: Microsoft Modular Windows
- 80286-12 processor on a local bus (not ISA) running at 12 MHz. 0-wait states. Equivalent PC performance somewhere around that of a 386SX-16 or 20.
- 1 MB of ROM containing minimal MS-DOS 3.x, a few drivers, and Modular Windows(TM).
- Built-in Audio CD player application.
- 1 MB of RAM in a conventional PC layout 640 KB + 384 KB.
- Mitsumi 1x (150 kB/s) CD-ROM drive with 16-bit interface, 800 ms access, 1300 ms worst case access, CD+G capable, but not Photo-CD. 5000 hour MTBF.
- IR interface with up to two IR transmitters (hand controllers) operating at once.
- PS/2 mouse or keyboard interface (either can be connected and are generally recognized by applications). A wired hand controller could also be connected to this port for use in locations where the wireless controller was not practical, or could be used in conjunction with one wireless controller.
- Expansion compartment for RS-232 serial board for use with Windows debugger.
- Modem (the same modem card that went in the Tandy Sensation I) could also be installed in the VIS. 2400 data 4800 send-only FAX.
- Outputs: RCA Line left/right, composite video, RF video, S-Video. NTSC video.
- Dallas Semiconductor plug-in CyberCard - removable non-volatile storage, in sizes up to 512 kB and system comes with 32 kB unit.
- Onboard audio is same as Tandy Sensation I: Adlib Gold compatible, not Sound Blaster compatible.
- Video uses ADAC-1 chip as found in Tandy Sensation I, supports YUV and several high-quality color modes. Also supported some TV-specific features for handling overscan.