Visual Information System (VIS) by Memorex (Tandy)

Console Name: Visual Information System
Release Date: 1992
Original Price: $699
Manufacturer: Tandy

Like Coleco, Tandy started as a leather company. Founded in 1919 under the name Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company. Tandy started to expand and acquired American Handicrafts Company in the ’50s, adding hobbyist-related product to their leather stores. By 1962, they bought Radio Shack which was near bankruptcy at the time.

By the mid 70s it was clear for Tandy that the computer and the video game industries were here to stay and decided to invest heavily in them. In 1977, Tandy releases the TRS-80 computer under the Radio-Shack brand as well as the TV Scoreboard. Aside from the Tandyvision One in 1982 which was a rebranding of the Intellivision, Tandy stayed out of the video game business for almost a decade, but with the rise of CD-based console such as the Philips CD-i, Tandy decided to get a piece of the pie.

The Visual Information System (VIS)  finally release in 1992 under the Memorex brand (a brand that belongs to Tandy). Sold exclusively in the Radio Shack store and retailed for $699 USD. Although the price point was fairly high, it was still cheaper than the t Philips CD-i which sold for about $1,000 USD. The VIS also had a huge advantage over the CD-i, it used a trim down version of Windows 3.1 called Windows Modular. The OS made it easy for developers to port existing titles from Windows 3.1 to the VIS.

Like the CD-i, the VIS was marketed as an edutainment system and just like the CD-i, it failed at delivering a decent experience. Educational software were not at their best while displayed on a television and the lack of action-paced title made drove away any potential gamer. Title such as Space Quest IV, King Quest V and Lemmings were rumoured to be ported to the system but it was too little too late.

Radio Shack were unable to sell the first production batch of the VIS and the console was returned to the warehouse to make space for other products. To try to limit their loss, Tandy then sold the VIS as the Memorex MD 2500 Video Information System by the catalogue for $399. In the end, the system was sold for 99$ bundled with 20 titles.

Technical Specification:

  • CPU: 12 MHz 80286 AMD (N80L286-12/S)
  • FPU: 80287 Co-processor
  • Chipset: NCR Corporation, LSI Logic (X07901200, X04990200, X04990300)
  • RAM: 2 x 256k@4bits Samsung DRAM (KM44C256CJ7)
  • Video: Cirrus Logic (CL-GD5200-80PC-A) (“Tandy ADAC-1”)
  • Audio: Yamaha 16-bits (YMF262-M). Adlib Gold compatible, not Sound Blaster compatible.
  • CDROM: Mitsumi (CRNC-FR002L)
  • Controls: Wireless infrared joypad
  • OS: Microsoft Modular Windows (based off Windows 3.1)
  • Memory: 1 MB ROM
  • Memory Card: “Save�It” (CyberCard) – Bus Controller: Dallas Semiconductor DS1280FP6, Memory Controller: Dallas Semiconductor DS1221, Memory: 32768 words x 8bits CMOS (Sony CXK58257)
  • Accessories: Wireless remote, 56kb/s Modem (cancelled), Wired Keyboard (cancelled)

Released Software

  • A Survey Of Western Art
  • American Heritage – Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary (1992)(Xiphias)
  • American Vista – The Multimedia U.S. Atlas (1992)(Applied Optical Media Corporation)
  • Americans in Space (1992)(Multicom Publishing)
  • America’s National Parks (1992)(Multicom Publishing)
  • Astrology Source (1992)(Multicom Publishing)
  • Atlas of U.S. Presidents (1992)(Applied Optical Media Corporation)
  • Awesome Adventures of Victor Vector & Yondo, The – Adventure No. 1 – The Vampire’s
  • Coffin (1992)(Sanctuary Woods)
  • Better Homes and Gardens – Healthy Cooking – CD Cookbook (1992)(Multicom Publishing)
  • Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear (1992)(Macmillan New Media)
  • Bible Lands, Bible Stories (1992)(Context Systems)
  • Compton’s Multimedia Encyclopedia VIS Edition – 1992 Edition v1.10VIS (1992)(Compton’s NewMedia)
  • December 24th. Story and Pictures by Denys Cazet (1992)(Macmillan New Media)(US)
  • Discis Books Multimedia – The Cask of Amontillado (Nov. 1992)(Discis)
  • Discis Books Multimedia – The Necklace (1992)(Discis)
  • Discis Books Multimedia – The Tell-Tale Heart (Nov. 1992)(Discis)
  • Encyclopedic Dictionary
  • Family Circus – Our House (Context Systems)
  • Fitness Partner – For Men and Women v1.0 (1993)(Computer Directions)
  • Great Lives Series: Interactive Biographies of American Heroes Vol. 1 (1992)(JLR Group)
  • Henry and Mudge – In The Sparkle Days (1992)(Macmillan New Media)
  • Henry and Mudge – The First Book
  • Henry and Mudge The First Book (1992)(Macmillan New Media) (Story by Cynthia Rylant, Pictures by Sucie Stevenson)
  • Illustrated Encyclopedia
  • Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? v1.0 (1992)(Macmillan New Media)
  • Kid-Fun (1992)(Radio Shack)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – A Long Hard Day on the Ranch (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Aesop’s Fables (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Cinderella – The Original Fairy Tale (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Heather Hits her First Home Run (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Moving Gives Me A Stomach Ache (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Mud Puddle (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Scary Poems for Rotten Kids (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Cask of Amontillado (Discus, Nov. 92)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Necklace (1992)(Discus)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Night Before Christmas (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Paper Bag Princess (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1992)(Discis)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – The Tell-Tale Heart (Discus, Nov. 92)
  • Kids Can Read Discis Books! – Thomas’ Snowsuit (1992)(Discis)
  • Learn To Play Guitar: Vol #1 (with Sting: Every Breath You Take/Message In A Bottle) (1993)(Parallax Publishing)
  • Links – The Challenge of Golf (1992)(Access Software)
  • Living Books – Just Grandma and Me
  • Meeting of Minds Series, The – Interactive Games of History, Art, Music, and Ideas with Steve Allen (1992)(JLR Group)
  • Mosaic Magic (1993)(Kinder Magic Software)
  • Multimedia Animals Encyclopedia
  • Mutanoid Math Challenge (1992)(Legacy Software)
  • My Paint (1992)(Saddleback Graphics)
  • New Basics Electronic Cookbook, The – With Recipes from the Acclaimed Silver Palate Series (1992)(Xiphias)
  • Our House – featuring The Family Circus (1992)(Context Systems)
  • Peter and the Wolf – A Multimedia Storybook (1992)(Ebook)
  • Playing With Language – Games In English (1992)(Syracuse Language Systems)
  • Playing With Language – Games In French (1992)(Syracuse Language Systems)
  • Playing With Language – Games In German (1992)(Syracuse Language Systems)
  • Playing With Language – Games In Japanese (1992)(Syracuse Language Systems)
  • Playing With Language – Games In Spanish (1992)(Syracuse Language Systems)
  • Race the Clock (1992)(Mindplay, Methods & Solutions)
  • Rainbow & Snowflake’s Search for the Sea (1992)(Multicom Publishing)
  • Rick Ribbit – Adventures in Early Learning (1992)(Tadpole Productions)
  • Rodney’s Funscreen (1992)(Activision)
  • Sail With Columbus (1992)(Parallax Publishing)
  • Secrets of Hosea Freeman, The – An Environmental Mystery (1992)(Top Ten Software)
  • Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective – Volume I (1992)(ICOM)
  • Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective – Volume II (1992)(ICOM)
  • SmartKids Challenge ONE (1992)(ARKEO)
  • Stepping Stones – Talking Bonus Pack – Level I and Level II (1992)(Compu-Teach)
  • Survey of Western Art, A – The Electronic Library of Art (1992)(Ebook)
  • Talking Stepping Stones (Bonus Pack) (Compu-Teach, 1992)
  • The Awesome Adventures of Victor Vector & Yondo: The Vampire’s Coffin
  • The Manhole (Activision)
  • The Meeting of Minds
  • The New Basics Electronic Cookbook
  • The Secrets of Hosea Freeman: An Environmental Mystery (1992)
  • Time Almanac (1992)(Compact Publishing)
  • Time Table of History – Arts and Entertainment – 1993 Edition (1992)(Xiphias)
  • Time Table of History – Business, Politics & Media – 1993 Edition (1992)(Xiphias)
  • Time Table of History – Science and Innovation – 1993 Edition (1992)(Xiphias)
  • Title Sampler (1992)(Tandy)
  • Video Movie Guide 1993 (Advanced Multimedia)
  • Vision Multimedia Bible – For the Entire Family (1992)(Candlelight Publishing)
  • What Is That? WILD Animals! (1992)(GTE ImagiTrek)
  • World Vista (1992)(Applied Optical Media Corporation)

Cancelled Games:

  • Bake & Taste
  • Easy Street
  • Eco Quest: Search for Cetus
  • Inspector Gadget!
  • Jones in the Fast Lane
  • King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart go Yonder!
  • Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra
  • Lemmings
  • Loom
  • Mixed-Up Mother Goose
  • Spacenuts
  • Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
  • The Sleeping Beauty
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