80s show The Computer Chronicles interviews the RDI Halcyon home console

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In 1985, RDI Video Systems released the Halcyon, a home video game console with a built-in laser disc player. Besides that, its main claim to fame was its patented voice recognition system, where all input would be handled by speaking into an attached microphone.

"Innovative", but only two video games were released before RDI went belly-up. And as this early demonstration shows, its easy to understand why: the average user had to eye-roll their way through three or four minutes worth of labored, electronically monotone pillow talk before the Halcyon would even let you play a damn game.

I love this clip. From the stuttery, uncomfortable RDI Spokesman's insistence that the Halcyon is just like 2001's HAL-9000 (a computer system mostly known for licking an extraterrestrial Monolith and going on a mass-murder rampage) to the shimmer of grease on all the veteran broadcast men, it's a masterpiece of unintentional humor. You could slap it up on BBC's Look Around You site completely unchanged and everyone would assume it was a masterful parody.

Every time you pine for the retro-future of decades past, keep in mind this little exchange, as The Computer Chronicles host tries to get the Halcyon to accept his voice command.

Broadcaster: Sorry, HAL.

HAL: HUH?

Broadcaster: One.

HAL: WUT?

Broadcaster (emphatically): ONE.

HAL: SPEAK CON-SIS-TENT-LY, STU-ART.

This is the future we all were promised!

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9 Comments

  1. “veteran broadcast men”? Um, Gary Kildall (seated to the left of the man in the headset) was the founder of DEC. You know, the guys who made the PDP systems. May have been on television, but veteran broadcast man he was not.

    Stewart Cheifet, on the other hand, certainly is now; but that’s only because Computer Chronicles was on the air from 1981 until 2002.

    Not angry at you, Brownlee; just a big Kildall and CC fan.

  2. Holy crap that was funny! “WUT?” And Rick from RDI is the classic introverted 80’s basement computer nerd wrapped in a suit.

  3. I like the end where a guy is philosophizing the laser disks are going to replace floppy discs.. HAHA

    Can you imagine having a laser disc drive that was as big as a laser disc player!!!

    I know there were some laser disc peripherals but they didn’t go anywhere.

  4. @SE7A7N7: Laser disc’s were the thing of the time. Basically the higher end of Video. But he did state something about CD-ROM (For data), which wasn’t avail till a couple years later to the public for PC Usage IIRC. The problem with Laser Disc was 1.) It’s size. 2.) It was digital for the most part.

    For what was show off – this was awesome for the day. We have a lot more advanced stuff to do more with voice recognition and better “AI”, but this was over 20 years ago. Now if we did Laser Discs with Blue Ray tech and 8″ drives….

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