Recently I found myself reading about the history of the Sega Channel (which was introduced in 1994). Although I never had it, I remember there being some buzz about it (between me and my friend at least). It really was an idea that was ahead of its time. The technology just wasn’t there yet to make it a successful venture and Sega has never had the best marketing for their products anyway, so of course it was going to start fading out fairly quickly.
These days we have the incredibly successful Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and Wii Channels but dating back even way before the Sega Channel there was the Intellivision PlayCable. There was also the CVC GameLine for Atari but more on that in a future post.
Introduced in 1981, the PlayCable was basically a premium cable channel much like HBO or Showtime. You had to have a special converter — the PlayCable Adapter — to gain access to the channel (along with the monthly subscription fee of course). $12 a month with a monthly rotating cast of 20 games? Not a bad deal really and it’s still just so amazing to me how forward thinking these companies were way before a venture like this would prove popular.
Alas, the PlayCable was discontinued in 1983. With the release of Intellivision games that required more memory, the 4K of RAM that the PlayCable adapter stored was not enough to support any of these 8K and 16K games for the channel thus the PlayCable looked a lot less attractive to consumers. Not that it would have mattered much anyway because 1983 was the year that nearly killed video games.
For more information about Intellivision, be sure to check out www.intellivisionlives.com.