Hey, remember WebTV?

I managed to stumble upon not one but two mentions of WebTV in the last week so I thought I’d share them with you.

WebTV (later known as MSN TV) was a Web product that included a thin client device to access the Web, a display unit (the TV), and the necessary online service. The original concept and product was developed by WebTV Networks, Inc. and was released on 18th September, 1996. Microsoft purchased the company a year later and in 2001, rebranded it as MSN TV. The idea of WebTV was to give consumers access to the Web in a more casual setting rather than the classic “sitting hunched over at a computer desk” scenario. The target demographic was people looking for low-cost Internet access and those mainly using the Web for browsing and e-mail.

Fast forward to 2022 and Michael MJD got his hands on an unopened WebTV unit to see if it’d work with today’s Internet (see below):

The Philips Magnavox variant came out in 1996 and allowed users to “explore the internet on their TV”, send and receive email, and it even came with a printer port so you could print stuff out. While some functions don’t work due to incompatibility with modern networks, Michael managed to use the search functionality which was awesome to see.

Then I watched a video review of WebTV by This Does Not Compute:

His device was made by Sony and Colin deep dived into the history of the product and how/why it died out. I don’t need that keyboard but I also really want it.

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