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



Alice in Wonderland

Alien Gate

Arcade Classics

Asterix: Caesars Challenge

Atlantis: The Last Resort

Axis and Allies



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: 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


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


Flintstones Jetsons Time Warp

The Gershwin Collection

Getting Ahead: Presentation Skills

Gifts to Behold


Girl’s Club



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


Hotel Mario

How the Camel Got His Hump


International Tennis Open

International Tennis Open 2

Invasion from the Planet Skyron

Jack Sprite Vs The Crimson Ghost

Jazz Guitar



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


Kingdom: The Far Reaches

Kingdom II: Shadoan

L’affaire Morlov

Labyrinth of Crete

Laser Lords




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


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



Paint School I (Demo)

Paint School II


Pecos Bill

Peter Gabriel: All About US

Pin Ball

Playboys Complete Massage


Power Hitter


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


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



Tell Me Why I (Demo)

Tell Me Why II

Tennis Our Way


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



Whack a Bubble

What’s it Worth

Who Shot Johnny Rock?

Wimbledon Challenge


World Cup Golf

Zaak Sam, de

Zelda’s Adventure

Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon


Zombie Dinos