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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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Viscorp Logo

Towards the end of 1995, Viscorp applied and were granted a licence by Escom to produce Amiga-based set-top systems. These would have been based around existing Internet standards, turning the Amiga into a internet-ready machine considerably cheaper than the PC and Mac rivals. Viscorp had already been developing a set-top box called UITI since 1990, the licensing of Amiga technology allowed them to tap into an already existing market. If the net computer idea failed it could always be sold to the Amiga clan. The ED would turn into a full Amiga with the addition of a keyboard and disk drive. There were also plans to create an ED card for the Amiga to provide ED based facilities. Software that ran on the Amiga, it is claimed, will run on Amiga, and vis-versa.
 

Universal Internet Television Interface (UITI)
Developer: VIScorp
Developed: 1990 - 1996

UITI
The UITI was Viscorp's first Amiga network box, that had been in development since 1990. By 1996 they were ready to test it in American homes and had comissioned a study. The press release indicated the machine provided full Internet access and web capabilities, but did not go into specifics. There was also a built-in speaker phone, caller ID, fax and e-mail capabilities plus telephone functions. The UITI was originally slated for release sometime during the fourth quarter of 1996 (Winter), but with Viscorp's financial troubles at the time the project was never released.
 

The Amiga ED
Developer: VIScorp
Developed: 1995 - 1996
Expected release: 4th quarter, 1996
Amiga ED
This was VisCORP's second attempt at an Internet computer, or Electronic Device (ED) as they called it. It is based on a more advanced version of the UITI, promising multimedia features such as telephone management, you can actually read who it is that is calling you on the TV screen using the built-in database and answer with the remote control, and internet access. A magnetic card stripe reader would also be included for banking services, as well as connection to a voice "bulletin board," support for multi-player games across the internet in real time, e-mail and fax. The ED would also use software similar to Java to run programs from a main server on the computer. It is alleged to have included a 020 processor, 2mb chip ram and 4mb fast ram and a modular communication port that allowed for faster modems, ISDN adapter, Ethernet and cable modems, etc. The ED would have cost around 300 US dollars.

Viscorp subcontracted some of the development to other companies, including ANQ who were responsible for developing operating system modules, simulations of graphical user interfaces and integrated applications including a children's painting program. To see an image of some of the software created by ANQ for the set-top box click here.

Distribution would have also been handled by third parties through licensing the technology to a number of manufacturers and distributors, including Pioneer, Zenith, Toshiba, and Freedom Star. This would hopefully have made the ED a standard Internet system with a large market share, rather than being forced to catch up with internet standards.
 
 

Processor 68020
Memory 2Mb Chip RAM,
4Mb Fast RAM
I/O Ports Magnetic card stripe reader,
modular communication port
Price (USD) $300

Viscorp were one of the first companies to know of Escom's troubles and arranged to buy Amiga Technologies from them. While the transaction was being completed, Escom went into liquidation slowing down the process. After a few months of legal discussions Viscorp were forced to pull out of the bidding due to a lack of finances. Without the hardware licence that they needed, the ED could not be released and Viscorp chose not to pursue the deal after Gateway bought the Amiga. After the failed acquisition the company has moved to California and are trading under the name of USDI.

 

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