Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Convergence part I: Pioneer LaserActive


It's not that long ago that technology companies bandied around the word "convergence".  It's not a new idea; that of taking several devices and fusing them into one.  The thing is that in the US at least, we have proven time and time again that we just don't care.  I guess that we love power strips choked with with wall-warts, stereo cabinets that are a tangle of wires, and coffee tables sagging with countless remotes.

The new X-box 360 seems like a sly way to get people into "convergence" without using the C-word.  I doubt that it'll work, but that's for the future to tell.  While we wait for thta ship to sail, let us delve into the past and share a few really awkward attempts at convergence.

In the early 90's; the word on the street (besides "convergence", of course) was "multi-media".  Computers were expensive and slow, and couldn't offer very high video quality.  Enter the Pioneer LaserActive.  Pioneer goosed this LaserDisc player with some innovative elements for gameplay.  It can play special game discs (some in 3D using LCD shutter glasses), CD-ROM style interactive discs (computer renders and girlie titles), in addition to playing regular movie discs.

The thing that makes the LaserActive really interesting is that it has interchangable modules for several game systems.  There are plug & play modules for Sega Genesis, NEC TurboGrafx, and true to it japanese pedigree there's a Karaoke module.  Even more interesting were some game titles that use the videogame hardware to create game sprites while the LaserDisc provides a true video background.

The problem?  LaserActive, the LD game titles, and its various gaming modules were horrifically expensive at something like $2000 all told.  The individual pieces cost many times more than the game hardware they were supposed to replace.  Few games really took advantage of this weird hybrid, so in the end - no one wins.

Do I even have to say that every part of the LaserActive is rare, expensive, and flakey?  In this particular case, convergence = failure.  More cases for the convergence prosecution in the future.

A few promotional words from the manual
Brute force method for Sega Master System 3-D play
Software list


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