Tandy Video Information System

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Video Information System
Video Information System logo.svg
DeveloperTandy
ManufacturerRadio Shack
TypeHome multimedia entertainment / Home video game console
GenerationFourth generation
Release date1992 - 1994
Introductory priceUS$699 (equivalent to $1,350 in 2021)
Units sold11,000

The Tandy Memorex Video Information System (VIS) is an interactive, multimedia CD-ROM player produced by the Tandy Corporation starting in 1992. It is 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[edit]

Logo for Modular Windows

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.[1] It has been claimed that Microsoft created a new, incompatible version of Modular Windows ("1.1") shortly after the VIS shipped.[2] No products are known to have actually used Modular Windows 1.1.

Reception[edit]

The VIS was not a successful product; by some reports Radio Shack only sold 11,000 units during the lifetime of the product.[3] Radio Shack store employees jokingly referred to the VIS as "Virtually Impossible to Sell".[4] Tandy discontinued the product in early 1994 and all remaining units were sold to a liquidator.

Spinoffs[edit]

Specifications[edit]

Details of the system include:[3]

Additional details:[5]

  • Intel 80286 processor on a local bus (not ISA) running at 12 MHz. 0-wait states. Equivalent PC performance somewhere around that of a 386SX at 16 or 20 MHz.
  • 1 MB of ROM containing minimal MS-DOS 3.x, a few drivers, and Modular Windows.
  • Built-in Audio CD player application.
  • 1 MB of RAM in a conventional PC layout 640 KB + 384 KB.
  • Mitsumi 1× (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 a 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.

Software[edit]

Games[edit]

Title Publisher
The Adventures of Victor Vector & Yondo: Adventure No. 1 - The Vampire's Coffin Sanctuary Woods
Kid-Fun Mindplay
Links: The Challenge of Golf Access Software
The Manhole: New and Enhanced! Activision
Mosaic Magic Kinder Magic Software
Mutanoid Math Challenge Legacy Software
Mutanoid Word Challenge Legacy Software
Playing with Language: Games in English Syracuse Language System
Playing with Language: Games in French Syracuse Language System
Playing with Language: Games in German Syracuse Language System
Playing with Language: Games in Japanese Syracuse Language System
Playing with Language: Games in Spanish Syracuse Language System
Race the Clock Mindplay
Rick Ribbit: Adventures in Early Learning Tadpole Productions
Rodney's Funscreen Activision
The Secrets of Hosea Freeman Audubon
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Vol. I ICOM Simulations
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective Vol. II ICOM Simulations
SmartKids Challenge One Arkeo
Talking Stepping Stones: Bonus Pack Computeach

Multimedia[edit]

Title Publisher
America's National Parks Xiphias
American Heritage: Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary Xiphias
American Vista Applied Optical Media Corporation
Americans in Space
Astrology Source Multicom
Atlas of U.S. Presidents Applied Optical Media Corporation
Better Homes and Gardens: Healthy Cooking
Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear
Bible Lands, Bible Stories Context
Compton's MultiMedia Encyclopedia: VIS Edition
December 24th Macmillan New Media
Discis Books Multimedia: The Cask of Amontillado - Edgar Allan Poe Discis
Discis Books Multimedia: The Necklace - Guy de Maupassant Discis
Discis Books Multimedia: The Tell-Tale Heart - Edgar Allan Poe Discis
Fitness Partner
Great Lives Series: Interactive Biographies of American Heroes Vol. 1 The JLR Group
Henry and Mudge: The First Book Macmillan New Media
Henry and Mudge in the Sparkle Days Macmillan New Media
Kids Can Read! A Long Hard Day at the Ranch - Audrey Nelson Discis
Kids Can Read! Aesop's Fables Discis
Kids Can Read! Cinderella - The Original Fairy Tale Discis
Kids Can Read! Heather Hits Her First Home Run by Ted Planos Discis
Kids Can Read! Moving Gives Me a Stomach Ache - Story by Heather McKend Discis
Kids Can Read! Mud Puddle - Robert N. Munsch Discis
Kids Can Read! Scary Poems for Rotten Kids written by Sean O Huigin Discis
Kids Can Read! The Night Before Christmas - Clement C. Moore LLD Discis
Kids Can Read! The Paper Bag Princess - Robert N. Munsch Discis
Kids Can Read! The Tale of Benjamin Bunny - Beatrix Potter Discis
Kids Can Read! The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter Discis
Kids Can Read! Thomas' Snowsuit - R. Munsch Discis
Learn to Play Guitar Volume 1 Parallax Publishing
The Meeting of Minds Series: Interactive Games of History, Art, Music, and Ideas The JLR Group
Mercer Mayer's Just Grandma and Me
Multimedia Animals Encyclopedia Applied Optical Media Corporation
My Paint
The New Basics Electronic Cookbook Xiphias
Our House featuring The Family Circus Context
Peter and the Wolf: A Multimedia Storybook
Sail with Columbus Parallax Publishing
Search for the Sea
A Survey of Western Art: The Electronic Library of Art
Time Table of History: Arts and Entertainment - 1993 Edition Xiphias
Time Table of History: Business, Politics & Media - 1993 Edition Xiphias
Time Table of History: Science and Innovation - 1993 Edition Xiphias
Title Sampler
Vision: Multimedia Bible for the Entire Family Context
Wild Animals!
World Vista Applied Optical Media Corporation

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Building The Data High Way". BYTE.com. March 1994. Archived from the original on December 21, 1996. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
  2. ^ Durda IV, Frank. ""10th Anniversary of the End of Tandy Computers - July 1, 1993"". comp.sys.tandy. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Tandy VIS". El Rincón de las FMV. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
  4. ^ "Tech Throwback: The Tandy Video Information System". blog post by former Radio Shack employee. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
  5. ^ "VIS Information?". 1995 Usenet post by former Tandy employee Frank Durda IV. Retrieved 2008-12-31.