Philips CD-i
"CDi" redirects here. For other uses, see CDI (disambiguation).
Philips CD-i CDIlogo.svg
The Philips CD-i 220 console and controller
Manufacturer     Philips, Sony, Magnavox
Type     Home video game console
Media player
Generation     Fourth generation
Release date     

    NA: December 3, 1991
    EU: 1992

Retail availability     1991–1998
Discontinued     1998
Units sold     1 million
Media     CD-i, Audio CD, CD+G, Karaoke CD, Video CD
Operating system     CD-RTOS
CPU     Philips SCC68070 @ 15.5 MHz
Memory     1 MB RAM
Display     384×280 to 768×560
Graphics     Philips SCC66470
Sound     MCD 221, ADPCM eight channel sound
Online services     CD-Online
Predecessor     Philips Videopac + G7400

The Philips CD-i (an abbreviation of Compact Disc Interactive) is an interactive multimedia CD player developed and marketed by Royal Philips Electronics N.V. It 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 floppy drive, keyboard, mouse, and monitor (a standard television is 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.

In addition to games, educational and multimedia reference titles were produced, such as interactive encyclopedias and museum tours, which were popular before public Internet access was widespread. The CD-i was also one of the earliest game systems 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. Competitors included the Tandy VIS and Commodore CDTV.

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. The CD-i was a commercial failure, selling one million units across all manufacturers in seven years, and losing Philips $1 billion.

See also: List of CD-i games

Philips at first marketed CD-i as a family entertainment product, and avoided mentioning video games to not compete against game consoles. Early software releases focused heavily on educational, music, and self-improvement titles, with only a few games, many of them adaptations of board games such as Connect Four. However, the system was handily beaten in the market for multimedia devices by cheap low-end PCs, and the games were the best-selling software. By 1993 Philips encouraged MS-DOS and console developers to create games, introduced a $250 peripheral with more memory and support for full-motion video, and added a second controller port for multiplayer games to new consoles.

The attempts to develop a foothold in the games market were unsuccessful, as the system was designed strictly as a multimedia player and thus was under-powered compared to other gaming platforms on the market in most respects. Earlier CD-i games included entries in popular Nintendo franchises, although those games were not developed by Nintendo. Specifically, a Mario game (titled Hotel Mario), and three Legend of Zelda games were released: Zelda's Adventure, Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Nintendo and Philips had established an agreement to co-develop a CD-ROM enhancement for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System due to licensing disagreements with Nintendo's previous partner Sony (an agreement that produced a prototype console called the SNES-CD). While Philips and Nintendo never released such a CD-ROM add-on, Philips was still contractually allowed to continue using Nintendo characters.

Applications were developed using authoring software produced by OptImage. This included OptImage's Balboa Runtime Libraries and MediaMogul. The second company that produced authoring software was Script Systems; they produced ABCD-I.

Philips also released several versions of popular TV game shows for the CD-i, including versions of Jeopardy! (hosted by Alex Trebek), Name That Tune (hosted by Bob Goen), and two versions of The Joker's Wild (one for adults hosted by Wink Martindale and one for kids hosted by Marc Summers). All CD-i games in North America (with the exception of Name That Tune) had Charlie O'Donnell as announcer. The Netherlands also released its version of Lingo on the CD-i in 1994.

In 1993, American musician Todd Rundgren created the first music-only fully interactive CD, No World Order, for the CD-i. This application allows the user to completely arrange the whole album in their own personal way with over 15,000 points of customization.

CD-i has a series of learning games ("edutainment") targeted at children from infancy to adolescence. Those intended for a younger audience included Busytown, The Berenstain Bears and various others which usually had vivid cartoon-like settings accompanied by music and logic puzzles.

Although extensively marketed by Philips, notably via infomercial, consumer interest in CD-i titles remained low. By 1994, sales of CD-i systems had begun to slow, and in 1998 the product line was dropped. Philips had by then, already sold its gaming subsidiary, Philips Media BV to French publisher Infogrames in 1996.

A large number of full motion video titles such as Dragon's Lair and Mad Dog McCree appeared on the system. One of these, Burn:Cycle, is considered one of the stronger CD-i titles and was later ported to PC. The February 1994 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly remarked that the CD-i's full motion video capabilities were its strongest point, and that nearly all of its best software required the MPEG upgrade card.

In 1996 Philips introduced CD-Online, a system which provided the CD-i with full internet access, including online shopping and support for networked multiplayer gaming on select CD-i games. Andy Stout, a writer for the official CD-i magazine, explained CD-Online:

    It is very much Internet-lite. The main advantages are that it's cheap - probably working out at a third of the cost of a PC or Mac solution - and incredibly user-friendly. The downside though is using a browser that doesn't support Netscape, and coping with all the drawbacks of the machine's minuscule memory - you can only ever access 10 articles on Usenet at a time, it'll only support 80 bookmarks maximum and for all that trouble all your saved games, preferences, and high scores will been written over in RAM. ... It's got the full access right now but with only about 40% of the functionality, which will probably be fine for people who don't know what they're missing. But the virtual keyboard is a complete nightmare to use ...

With the home market exhausted, Philips tried with some success to position the technology as a solution for kiosk applications and industrial multimedia.
Player models
Philips models
The Philips CD-i 910
Philips CD-i 400 series

In addition to consumer models, professional and development players were sold by Philips Interactive Media Systems and their VARs. Philips marketed several CD-i player models.

    The CD-i player 200 series, which includes the 205, 210, and 220 models. Models in the 200 series are designed for general consumption, and were available at major home electronics outlets around the world. The Philips CD-i 910 is the American version of the CD-i 205, the most basic model in the series.
    The CD-i player 300 series, which includes the 310, 350, 360, and 370 models. The 300 series consists of portable players designed for the professional market and not available to home consumers.[clarification needed (not available?)] A popular use was multimedia sales presentations such as those used by pharmaceutical companies to provide product information to physicians, as the devices could be easily transported by sales representatives.
    The CD-i player 400 series, which includes the 450, 470, 490 models. The 400 models are slimmed-down units aimed at console and educational markets. The CD-i 450 player, for instance, is a budget model designed to compete with game consoles. In this version, an infrared remote controller is not standard but optional.
    The CD-i player 600 series, which includes the 601, 602, 604, 605, 615, 660, and 670 models. The 600 series is designed for professional applications and software development. Units in this line generally include support for floppy disk drives, keyboards and other computer peripherals. Some models can also be connected to an emulator and have software testing and debugging features.

There also exist a number of hard-to-categorize models, such as the FW380i, an integrated mini-stereo and CD-i player; the 21TCDi30, a television with a built-in CD-i device; and the CD-i 180/181/182 modular system, the first CD-i system produced.
Other manufacturers

In addition to Philips, several manufacturers produced CD-i players, including Magnavox, GoldStar / LG Electronics, Digital Video Systems, Memorex, Grundig, Saab Electric, Sony (Intelligent Discman, a portable CD-i player), Kyocera, NBS, Highscreen, and Bang & Olufsen, who produced a television with a built-in CD-i device (Beocenter AV5).
TeleCD-i and CD-MATICS

Recognizing the growing need among marketers for networked multimedia, Philips partnered in 1992 with Amsterdam-based CDMATICS to develop TeleCD-i (also TeleCD). In this concept, the CD-i player is connected to a network such as PSTN or Internet, enabling data-communication and rich media presentation. Dutch grocery chain Albert Heijn and mail-order company Neckermann were early adopters and introduced award-winning TeleCD-i applications for their home-shopping and home-delivery services. CDMATICS also developed the special Philips TeleCD-i Assistant and a set of software tools to help the worldwide multimedia industry to develop and implement TeleCD-i. TeleCD-i is the world's first networked multimedia application at the time of its introduction. In 1996, Philips acquired source code rights from CDMATICS.
Technical specifications
A presentation controller for the Philips CD-i. The CD-i's controllers were heavily criticized.
CD-i Mouse


    16/32-bit 68070 CISC Chip
    Clock Speed of 15.5 MHz


    Graphics Chip: SCC66470, later MCD 212
    Resolution: 384×280 to 768×560
    Colors: 16.7 million w/ 32,768 on screen
    MPEG 1 Cartridge Plug-In for VideoCD and Digital Video



    Sound Chip: MCD 221
    ADPCM eight channel sound
    16-bit stereo sound
    Digital Out

Operating System

    CD-RTOS (based on Microware's OS-9)


    1 MB of main RAM
    Single speed CD-ROM drive


CD-i accessories

    CD-i mouse
    Roller controller
    CD-i trackball
    I/O port splitter
    Touchpad controller
    Gamepad controller (Gravis PC GamePad)
    IR wireless controller
    RAM expansion and Video-CD (MPEG-1) support with DV Cart
    Peacekeeper Revolver

Market competition

Panasonic M2 is an interactive kiosk. Multimedia/video game systems include Commodore CDTV, Pioneer LaserActive, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and Tandy Video Information System. Dedicated video game consoles based on CD-ROM media include Sega Mega Drive/Genesis with Sega Mega-CD/Sega CD expansion, 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, and NEC TurboDuo.

Although Philips had aggressively promoted CD-i, by August 1993 Computer Gaming World reported that "skepticism persists about its long-term prospects" compared to other platforms like IBM PC compatibles, Apple Macintosh, and Sega Genesis. The magazine stated in January 1994 that despite Philips' new emphasis on games "CD-i is still not the answer for hardcore gamers", but the console "is 'not quite dead, yet' and may yet surprise us all in the future". It recommended the CD-i with video cartridge for those needing to buy a new console as "The price is right and there is more software to support it", but 3DO was probably better for those who could wait a few months. An early 1995 review of the system in GamePro stated that "inconsistent game quality puts the CD-i at a disadvantage against other high-powered game producers." A late 1995 review in Next Generation criticized both Philips's approach to marketing the CD-i and the hardware itself ("The unit excels at practically nothing except FMV, and then only with the addition of a $200 digital video cartridge"). The magazine noted that while Philips had not yet officially discontinued the CD-i, it was dead for all intents and purposes, citing as evidence the fact that though Philips had a large booth at the 1995 Electronic Entertainment Expo, there was no CD-i hardware or software on display. Next Generation scored the console one out of five stars.

After its discontinuation, retrospectively, the CD-i was overwhelmingly panned by critics about its graphics, games, and controls. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates admitted that initially he "was worried" about the CD-i due to Philips's heavy support for the device and its two-pronged attack on both the games console and PC markets, but that in retrospect "It was a device that kind of basically got caught in the middle. It was a terrible game machine, and it was a terrible PC." The CD-i's various controllers were ranked the fifth worst video game controller by IGN editor Craig Harris. PC World ranked it as fourth on their list of "The 10 Worst Video Game Systems of All Time". listed it as number four on their list of The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time. In 2008, CNET listed the system on its list of The worst game console(s) ever.  In 2007, GameTrailers ranked the Philips CD-i as the fourth worst console of all time in its Top 10 Worst Console lineup.

Games that were most heavily criticized include Hotel Mario, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda's Adventure. EGM's Seanbaby rated The Wand of Gamelon as one of the worst video games of all time. However, Burn:Cycle was positively received by critics, and has often been held up as the standout title for the CD-i.

Complete Game List Below:

  • A Great Day at the Races
  • A National Parks Tour
  • A Visit to Sesame Street Letters
  • A Visit to Sesame Street Numbers
  • ABC Sports Presents Batter Up
  • Accelerator
  • Alfapet
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Alien Gate
  • Arcade Classics
  • Asterix: Caesars Challenge
  • Atlantis: The Last Resort
  • Axis and Allies
  • Backgammon
  • Battleship
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Big Bang Show
  • Brain Dead 13
  • Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby
  • Burn Cycle
  • Carreras Domingo Pavarotti in Concert
  • Caesar’s World of Boxing
  • Caesar’s World of Gambling
  • Cartoon Jukebox
  • CD Shoot
  • Chaos Control
  • Chistmas Country
  • Chistmas Crisis
  • The Civil War: The South Secedes and War Begins
  • Classical Jukebox (Demo)
  • Clue
  • Clue: The Mysteries Continue
  • Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia
  • Connect Four
  • Creature Shock
  • Crime Patrol
  • Crime Patrol 2: Drug Wars
  • Dark Castle
  • David and Goliath
  • Defender of the Crown
  • Deja Vu
  • Deja Vu 2
  • Dimo’s Quest
  • Do you remember the 60s
  • Domino
  • Dragon’s Lair
  • Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp
  • Dutch Masters of the 17th Century
  • Earth Command
  • Earth Rhythms
  • Effacer: Hangman of the 25th Century
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • Escape From CyberCity
  • Family Games
  • Family Games 2: Junk Food Jive
  • Flashback
  • Flintstones Jetsons Time Warp
  • The Gershwin Collection
  • Getting Ahead: Presentation Skills
  • Gifts to Behold
  • Girls
  • Girl’s Club
  • Go
  • Goal!
  • Golden Oldies 1
  • Golden Oldies 2
  • Golden Oldies: Jukebox
  • Golf My Way
  • Golf Tips
  • Grand Prix Special
  • Great British Golf Middle Ages: 1940
  • Golgo 13
  • Great American Golf 1
  • Great American Golf 2
  • Hanna Barbera’s Cartoon Carnival
  • Harvest of the Sun
  • Haunted House
  • Hieroglyph
  • Hotel Mario
  • How the Camel Got His Hump
  • Inca
  • International Tennis Open
  • International Tennis Open 2
  • Invasion from the Planet Skyron
  • Jack Sprite Vs The Crimson Ghost
  • Jazz Guitar
  • Jeopardy!
  • Jigsaw
  • Karaoke Klassics Family Favorites
  • Karaoke Klassics Greatest Love Duets Vol 1
  • Karaoke Klassics Male Standards Vol 1
  • Karaoke Klassics Pop Femal Vol 1
  • Karaoke Klassics Special Occasions Vol 1
  • Kether
  • Kingdom: The Far Reaches
  • Kingdom II: Shadoan
  • L’affaire Morlov
  • Labyrinth of Crete
  • Laser Lords
  • Lemmings
  • Lettergreep
  • Lingo
  • Link: The Faces of Evil
  • Litil Divil
  • Little Monster at School
  • Lords of the Rising Sun
  • Lost Eden
  • Lost Ride
  • Lucky Luke: The Video Game
  • Mad Dog II: The lost Gold
  • Mad Dog McCree
  • Marco Polo
  • Max Magic
  • Master Labyrinth
  • Mega Maze
  • Merlin’s Apprentice
  • Micro Machines
  • Monty Python’s More Naughty Bits
  • Moses: The Exodus
  • Mother Goose Rhymes to Color
  • Mutant Rampage: Bodyslam
  • Myst
  • Mystic Midway: Phantom Express
  • Mystic Midway: Rest in Pieces
  • Name that Tune
  • NFL’s 100 Greatest Touchdowns
  • NFL Football Trivia Challenge
  • NFL Hall of Fame Football
  • NFL Instant Replay
  • Othello
  • Pac-Panic
  • Paint School I (Demo)
  • Paint School II
  • Pavarot
  • Pecos Bill
  • Peter Gabriel: All About US
  • Pin Ball
  • Playboys Complete Massage
  • Plunderball
  • Power Hitter
  • Prelude
  • Pyramid: Episode I: Treasures of the Lost Pyramid
  • Rand McNally’s America-United States Atlas
  • Rembrandt: His Art and the Music of this Era
  • Rhythm Maker
  • Richard Scarry’s Busiest Neighborhood Disc Ever!
  • Rise of the Robots
  • Sailing
  • Sandy’s Circus Adventure
  • Sargon Chess
  • Scotland Yard Interactive
  • Secret Mission
  • Shaolin’s Road
  • Shari Lewis Lamb Chop’s Play Along
  • Solar Crusade
  • Space Ace
  • Space Ranger: Return to Earth (Prototype)
  • Sport Freaks
  • Steel Machine
  • Stickybear Reading
  • Stickybear Spelling
  • Story Machine Magic Tales
  • Story Machine Star Dreams
  • The Story of Samson
  • Striker Pro
  • Strip Poker Live
  • Strip Poker Pro
  • Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds (Prototype)
  • Tangram: The Ultimate Chinese Game
  • Teleportasmurf
  • Telesmurfer
  • Tell Me Why I (Demo)
  • Tell Me Why II
  • Tennis Our Way
  • Tetris
  • Tetsuo Gaiden
  • Text Tiles
  • The 7th Guest
  • The Apprentice
  • The Art of Czars
  • The Berenstain Bears: On Their Own
  • The Best of Baby Songs
  • The Crayon Factory
  • The Cream of Eric Clapton
  • The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe
  • The Food of France
  • The French Impressionists
  • The Full Swing
  • The Joker’s Wild
  • The Joker’s Wild Jr.
  • The Joy of Sex
  • The Last Bounty Hunter
  • The Lost Ride
  • The Palm Springs Open
  • The Vision Factory Bundle Disk
  • The Wacky World of Miniature Golf
  • The World of Impressionism
  • Third Degree
  • Thunder in Paradise
  • Time Life Photography
  • Treasures of the Smithsonian
  • TR-I: No World Order
  • Ultra CD-i Soccer
  • Ultimate Noah’s Ark
  • Uncover Featuring Tatjana
  • USGA Presents: Great American Golf 1
  • USGA Presents: Great American Golf 2
  • USGA Presents: Great American Golf 1 and 2
  • Video Speedway
  • Voetbal
  • Voyeur
  • Whack a Bubble
  • What’s it Worth
  • Who Shot Johnny Rock?
  • Wimbledon Challenge
  • Wordplay
  • World Cup Golf
  • Zaak Sam, de
  • Zelda’s Adventure
  • Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
  • Zenith
  • Zombie Dinos