Rhode Island Soft Systems

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Rhode Island Soft Systems (also known as R.I. Soft Systems and RISS) was an American software development and new media company based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The company was best known for developing screensavers, computer games and programming tools for Microsoft Windows.

Early history[edit]

Rhode Island Soft Systems was founded in 1990 by Eric Robichaud. Originally conceived as a side venture to Robichaud’s full-time work as a computer programmer with CVS Caremark Corporation, Robichaud’s first product was a DOS screensaver called BLANK-IT. Additional products were created, and by 1994 Robichaud left CVS to start his own company.[1][2]

Among the first Rhode Island Soft Systems products to gain wide attention was a 1994 signature font product that enabled computer users to incorporate their signature word processing documents.[3] The company also created a digital jigsaw puzzle game called Jixxa, and received commissions to create screensavers and interactive CD-ROMs to promote Folgers Coffee, the New York Knicks and Harley Davidson motorcycles.[1][4]

Product lines[edit]

During the late 1990s, the company created a series of whimsical screensavers that poked fun at popular culture figures and trends. Among its most notable titles were Hey, Macaroni!, which used animated dancing noodles to spoof the Macarena craze, and Liverdance, which parodied Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance success with a troupe of anthropomorphic livers performing Irish stepdancing. Liverdance, released in 1998, was also the first screensaver that incorporated built-in multiple advertisements, with Hasbro Interactive, Prodigy, Barnes & Noble, Symantec and WinZip as the first advertisers.[5]

Beyond its consumer products, the company created programming tools including Image Carousel Professional Edition and Ovation Studio Pro.[6][7]

Company expansion and sale[edit]

In 1999, the company acquired Mediaweave, a Providence, Rhode Island-based company that produced multimedia projects and Web sites. By 2000, Rhode Island Soft Systems grew to U.S.$1 million in annual sales.[1][8]

In 2003, Rhode Island Soft Systems was sold to Freeze.com, a Waite Park, Minnesota-based screensaver development company. The transaction included a five-year development and sponsorship contract that highlighted the Rhode Island Soft Systems products on the Freeze.com web site.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Zachery Block & Kathleen Yanity (December 7, 2000). "Woonsocket, R.I., Software, New Media Firm Grows Into a $1-Million Company". Providence Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  2. ^ "Shareware Hall of Fame". Shareware Industry Awards. Archived from the original on 2008-11-19. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  3. ^ "High-Tech John Hancocks". Business Week. December 26, 1994. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  4. ^ Larry Blasko (August 6, 2001). "Computer Game Is a Jigsaw Puzzle". Associated Press. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  5. ^ Michel Marriott (May 14, 1998). "Jiggling Livers, and Advertising, in a Lively Screen Saver". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  6. ^ "Tool Creates Professional Screensavers". Computer Dealer News. January 28, 2000. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  7. ^ "RISS Releases Next Version of Ovation". ENT. February 3, 1999. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  8. ^ "Business Briefs Column". Providence Journal. August 18, 1999. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  9. ^ "Well-known Screensaver Site Sold". Newswit.com. August 15, 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-01.