Friday, October 7, 2011

The Tandy Memorex VIS

The Tandy Memorex Visual Information System, the VIS, was one of the many failed CD-based multimedia platforms of the early 90s. It was released in 1992 and was essentially a consolised PC sporting an Intel 286 processor, a single speed CD-ROM drive, 1MB of RAM, a decent sound-card, an equally decent VGA graphics adapter and a special version of Windows 3.1. Not surprisingly, it wasn't the greatest gaming machine possible -I do believe the CDTV was actually better- and was a huge flop. Huge enough to remain incredibly obscure -and I suppose rare- to this very day.

Having never seen one on eBay before, I can't really tell how expensive it's going to end up being, but I'm pretty sure taking a look at this Tandy Memorex VIS auction will definitely be worth your time. It sports a fully functional VIS console, the obligatory wireless controller and 28 games/multimedia titles. Among them you'll find only a handful of well know games such as Links and The Manhole, and a ton of titles like Great Lives, Wild Animals and Kid Fun. Seller ships only within the United States. 

8 comments:

  1. Never heard of this indeed. But, you know what, I really miss the 90's with all their crappy hardware, unlikely games and overly ambitious projects that made us dream and then fell flat on their buns.

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  2. You are absolutely correct and I fully share the sentiment. Each new hardware announcement did sound dreamlike and over-ambitious, whereas people still had their jobs. Ah, the glory days...

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  3. I'm assuming this particular device didn't make it across the Atlantic - just as well really, cos as I remember, the 286 PCs we had at school could barely handle Windows 2 and floppy drives, never mind futuristic shiny metal discs.

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  4. I too think it never made it to Europe dear Bob, but can't be 100% sure. I definitely had never heard of the thing before, mind, but I can testify thay my 12Mhz 286 never really ran Windows, despite playing an almost decent game of Wing Commander.

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  5. Ah, now I played Wing Commander via my trusty Amiga 1200 with it's 25Mhz 040 accelerator and 8Mb fast ram, so I never really had that problem. Loved it, so much so that I got the EA Replay collection for my PSP. Unfortunately, on the PSP, it's completely unplayable. Ah well.

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  6. Never really played Wing Commander on an Amiga myself, but I do remember loving it on my 386SX PC. Such a fantastic game; shame it didn't work well on the PSP, but I'm pretty sure such games actually require both a keyboard and a joystick.

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  7. Absolutely, Gnome. Sadly a d-pad, two shoulder buttons and a rather pernickety analogue nub thing don't really translate too well for games like Wing Commander - instead of being able to use the number keys to easily select commands and such, it has a labyrinthine system of button combinations - all while trying to avoid being shot down or flying straight into an asteroid. Now - on something like the PVita, or the humble DS - with their touch screens, games like that could be a much better proposition.

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  8. Oh, yes. And as I already own a DS I haven't touched for a year, I believe I could love WC on it. The second screen would definitely help, though we all know that's not happening. As for the Vita, I like it. It feels like a modern version of my dear Lynx.

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