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post #1 of 74 Old 04-30-2007, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to put together a chronological listing of A/V technology history for our blog and I have uncovered some really interesting facts. I also want to include historical information about HTPCs. This is probably impossible to determine, but does anyone have any information about the earliest HTPCs? Who, when, where they were developed...?

I assume the earliest HTPCs started appearing in the mid to late 90s, but some may think it was much earlier. I suppose it depends on how you define an HTPC.

Maybe it was when the first consumer add-on sound cards were sold, but it might be more accurate when the first pro-sumer cards, like the M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 were being purchased by HTPC early adopters. My first add-on soundcard was a Turtle Beach Multisound, which I think I purchased around 1992. But maybe it was really when the combination of a good soundcard, video card, DVD-ROM drive and a CPU was fast enough to scale and output progressive scan DVD and surround sound, that the HTPCs were born. Actually, I had a Real Magic Hollywood decoder board that allowed me to play DVDs with a 486 or early Pentium PC, so maybe the HTPC predates the faster CPUs. I'm sure software also plays a big part. Applications like WinDVD, PowerDVD, Winamp, etc., played a big role. Does anyone think any of this software deserves to be recognized as an HTPC milestone?

Now an HTPC can do so more because of HDTV tuners, etc.

So does anyone know when-
the first decoder boards were sold?
the first DVD-Rom drives were available?
the first prosumer soundcards?
good quality video cards? (the video card in my earliest HTPCs were from Matrox)
TV tuner cards?
HDTV tuners?

Anything else I should include?

Thanks for your help!

Gregg Plummer
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post #2 of 74 Old 04-30-2007, 05:41 PM
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post #3 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbmcgee View Post

Ah, the good old days.
http://archive.avsforum.com/avs-vb/s...light=pioneers

Thanks for the link. There's a lot of good information in that thread.

There are no real dates, but I can make some estimates based on the references in the posts.

1996 - Chromatic Research develops Mpact1 MPEG1/2 decoder chip that could output a progressive RGB image from an interlaced DVD.
1997 - The first progressive scan DVD player on a PCI card, called the DVD Max, was sold.
1998 - Chromatic Research designs Mpact2, the new and improved 2nd generation MPEG1/2 decoder chip, which was used in the popular 3DFusion DVD card sold by Digital Connection. Compaq Computer sells the Compaq PC Theater System.
1999 - Software DVD decoding becomes viable because of the accelerated increase in CPU performance. The term "HTPC" for home theater PC is first used on Web forums and newsgroups. John Adcock and a group of volunteer programmers develop DScaler, the first open source software program providing video scaling and deinterlacing utilizing an advanced 3:2 pulldown algorithm.
2000 - AV Science is the first company to offer an OEM turnkey software HTPC.

Like I said, I don't have absolutely accurate dates and there are other key things probably missing. Does anyone have more info on the introduction of TV tuner cards, HDTV tuners, etc.?

Thanks again

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post #4 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Another question:

When did Microsoft first announce and release Media Center?

Initially, you couldn't just buy Media Center, I think you could only purchase it with pre-built systems. When did they start selling a stand-alone version of Media Center?

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post #5 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 01:06 PM
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The first HTPC thing I saw was in Widescreen review and I think they were based on the mpact card mentioned above.

What point in history did the Gateway Destination come? It may have been the first. That was a really cool product, though a bit ahead of it's time.

~Jay
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post #6 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay M View Post

The first HTPC thing I saw was in Widescreen review and I think they were based on the mpact card mentioned above.

What point in history did the Gateway Destination come? It may have been the first. That was a really cool product, though a bit ahead of it's time.

~Jay

In the archived thread linked above, a poster named "jerndl" posted:
Quote:


Although they were not very good, Gateway was the first(I think) mainstream company to ship a integrated PC specialized for TV and DVD viewing. I bought one in October 1997 (and later returned it). It was called the "Destination", came with a 32" SVGA monitor and had SPDIF out. I really liked the RF keyboard and remote control/mouse. They tried for a few years to make a go of it and finally gave up. Apparently the masses were not quite ready for PC/TV convergence. I give Gateway credit for getting me interested in this hobby. The high cost of DVD players (at that time) was also a large incentive.

I wonder when Gateway started selling them. Ah, the wonders of searching with Google:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1375246,00.asp

Quote:


Back in 1996, Gateway 2000 produced a fascinating $4,000 combination PC, TV tuner, and 36-inch CRT monitor called the Gateway Destination. Now Gateway has a similarly priced spiritual descendent, the new Gateway Media Center PC with Plasma TV, that is worlds betterif beset with a different set of challenges.


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post #7 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greggplummer View Post

Thanks for the link. There's a lot of good information in that thread.

There are no real dates, but I can make some estimates based on the references in the posts.

1996 - Chromatic Research develops Mpact1 MPEG1/2 decoder chip that could output a progressive RGB image from an interlaced DVD.
1997 - The first progressive scan DVD player on a PCI card, called the DVD Max, was sold.
1998 - Chromatic Research designs Mpact2, the new and improved 2nd generation MPEG1/2 decoder chip, which was used in the popular 3DFusion DVD card sold by Digital Connection. Compaq Computer sells the Compaq PC Theater System.
1999 - Software DVD decoding becomes viable because of the accelerated increase in CPU performance. The term "HTPC" for home theater PC is first used on Web forums and newsgroups. John Adcock and a group of volunteer programmers develop DScaler, the first open source software program providing video scaling and deinterlacing utilizing an advanced 3:2 pulldown algorithm.
2000 - AV Science is the first company to offer an OEM turnkey software HTPC.

Like I said, I don't have absolutely accurate dates and there are other key things probably missing. Does anyone have more info on the introduction of TV tuner cards, HDTV tuners, etc.?

Thanks again

The myHD introduction was significant, circa 2002

http://episteme.arstechnica.com/6/ub...5&m=8780993774

I had my first Hauppauge internal TV tuner card around 1993-1994! It was an ISA card I recorded my first cable TV video clips to .avi's on the hard disk using that Hauppauge card, on a P1 66Mhz box

See the end of the annual report
http://www.hauppauge.com/PDFs/00annual.pdf

for fairly complete history of Hauppauge's WinTV cards.

I experimented with placing a PC in the living room around Fall 1995 with a Packard Bell P1 133Mhz, for audio Cd playback, MOD/tracker music playback, VCD playback, DOS/Win95 gaming and emulators for the 2600, 5200, Colecovisions, etc. VCD's were sold in racks at Best Buy at the time, the first 100% digital optical movie format (laser Discs were analog video, digital audio). I converted the VGA output to Svideo using an internal PCI scan convertor card, as well as external models from Focus Enhancements.
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post #8 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 01:45 PM
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The first HDTV card to market was the Telemann Hipix introduced around Oct. 2001, followed by the AccessDTV, then the MyHD.
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post #9 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 01:51 PM
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Oh, and the single most important person to birthing of the HTPC was Christy Warren, who posted at USENET the first review of the 3DFusion DVD which brought the card and progressive scan DVD into the mainstream.
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post #10 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kei Clark View Post

Oh, and the single most important person to birthing of the HTPC was Christy Warren, who posted at USENET the first review of the 3DFusion DVD which brought the card and progressive scan DVD into the mainstream.

Do you know when Christy posted her review? I'm trying to put everything into chronological order. I'm guessing her review was sometime around 1998 or 1999 based on the information in the linked thread.

I wonder if she'd get a chuckle out of this description:

1998 - Christy Warren gives birth to the HTPC after writing a positive review of the 3DFusion DVD card and creating the acronym "HTPC" for home theater personal computers in a USENET Internet newsgroup.

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post #11 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 02:43 PM
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Greg,

Here's where it all started:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.h...794d953e99fbe7

Add: look at the names of the participants on the discussion, you'll see many are still prominent old timers here at AVS.
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post #12 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the link. It's really interesting to read that thread from back in the early days.

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post #13 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kei Clark View Post

The first HDTV card to market was the Telemann Hipix introduced around Oct. 2001, followed by the AccessDTV, then the MyHD.

You're forgetting about the WinTV-D (if that counts) and the WinTV-HD. The WinTV-HD used the same Janus chipset, and was introduced around the same time as the HiPix. I still have one sitting in a box somewhere.
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post #14 of 74 Old 05-01-2007, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PapaSloth View Post

You're forgetting about the WinTV-D (if that counts) and the WinTV-HD. The WinTV-HD used the same Janus chipset, and was introduced around the same time as the HiPix. I still have one sitting in a box somewhere.

Ever get it working?
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post #15 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 04:07 AM
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I had a WinTV-D in the fall of 1999.

Yes, I had it working

That card is what gave WinTV2000 a bad name.

I now use WinTV2000 + TitanTV for my analog cable recordings. It took them 6 years to make WinTV2000 stable, but it does the job now without a hitch .

While some "HTPC" purists only count the introduction of progressive DVD playback as the dawn of the "HTPC", I disagree.

Those of us using a PC in the living room to play CD's, VCD's, games and other programs and media prior to progressive DVD were early media PC enthusiasts.

The commercial VCD releases in 1994-1995 looked very, very good on a 27" Trinitron of the day, better then VHS and in some ways better than LD. I remember demoing the Top Gun VCD release for everyone that visited, and they were all amazed
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post #16 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 12:01 PM
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My first multifunction "HTPC" was when 486 dx2's, doom, mp3's and ISA TV tuner cards all hit the market. I believe that was around 1993 or so, a couple years ahead of the Gateway Destination systems.

My PC went into the HT originally for Doom on the 480i RPTV big screen.

HTPC functionality was secondary to gaming for me at that time even though I had used ISA tuners at work since before they first released to the public.

Troy

The Non-Profit Home Theater Company will make your HTPC experience much easier.
Link for info on our first project
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post #17 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 12:48 PM
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I wonder if she's the same Christy Warren who I worked with at Taligent back around that time?

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post #18 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 01:15 PM
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Glad someone mentioned the Gateway Destination. I can't forget, since I still own a 36" Gateway SVGA monitor. They were available in 27, 32, and 36", all maxing out at 800x600. I'm pretty sure they were OEM'd from Princeton Graphics, if you care about that level of detail.

PS - in addition to the "living room size" monitor, it was probably the first computer to come with a remote control. There were barely any uses for it, but I'm almost certain it did have one. Hopefully someone can confirm.

Also keep in mind that 800x600 was a pretty normal computer resolution until recently. The Gateway monitors were much more clunky than computer monitors of the time (or any other time), but the tech was fundamentally similar. They support multisync and EBID, though not plug & play. That may put them in a different category from HTPCs that are designed to output NTSC to "regular" TVs.
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post #19 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 02:20 PM
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Another product that might belong in HTPC history would be the Philips DVX8000.
http://www.xo4.com/metamedia/DVX8000.html

I wanted one but the price was a bit out of reach for me.
Now it's just $100 on ebay
http://cgi.*********/Philips-DVX8000...QQcmdZViewItem

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post #20 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay M View Post

Another product that might belong in HTPC history would be the Philips DVX8000.

When did this first ship?

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post #21 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 02:50 PM
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I don't know for sure, but here http://www.g4tv.com/techtvvault/feat...s_DVX8000.html is a review by Patrick Norton in 1998.
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post #22 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
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After a quick search, I found the official press release that shows 1998 as the date also.

Thanks Jay!

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post #23 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 02:58 PM
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What if I tell you that in fall of 1993 I had a PC which worked as my TV set, my CD player, my video editing machine, my photo album etc?

Self-assembled, my total was around $6000.

I had that superfast double-speed CD ROM drive which cost me around $500 alone.

All in 1993 $$$.

Will it count to the beginning of HTPC?

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #24 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:01 PM
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The legendary Airboard IR keyboard was introduced in 1997. The Airboard and its clones and compatible keyboards were/are staples among AVS HTPC users.

In front of me as I type on a current model Airboard compatible KB, is a 1997 TigerDirect catalog.

Page 9 shows a pre-built HTPC, with DVD drive, IR handheld STB-style remote, and Airboard.

Specs:

AMD K6 MMX
5 bay desktop black case
200W PSU
32MB EDO RAM
512K pipeline burst cache
IDE hard disk
ATI 3D Rage II with Svideo out
Pioneer DVD ROM drive
Hardware MPEG2 card w/ SPDIF out
SB Pro compatible sound card with wavetable MIDI
FIC PA2011 mobo with VIA590VP2 chipset
AMI Bios
4x PCI, 4x ISA slots

$999 200Mhz/2.5GB hard disk
$1399 233Mhz/ 4.5GB
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post #25 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

What if I tell you that in fall of 1993 I had a PC which worked as my TV set, my CD player, my video editing machine, my photo album etc?

Self-assembled, my total was around $6000.

I had that superfast double-speed CD ROM drive which cost me around $500 alone.

All in 1993 $$$.

Will it count to the beginning of HTPC?

That sure sounds like one of the earliest HTPC builds to me. Anyone else???

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post #26 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I've gone ahead and published the article on my blog.

http://amplioaudio.blogspot.com/2007...echnology.html

As you can see, it's a pretty long timeline.

I will probably update it when I get more info.

Thanks for your help!!!

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post #27 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galileo2000 View Post

What if I tell you that in fall of 1993 I had a PC which worked as my TV set, my CD player, my video editing machine, my photo album etc?

Self-assembled, my total was around $6000.

I had that superfast double-speed CD ROM drive which cost me around $500 alone.

All in 1993 $$$.

Will it count to the beginning of HTPC?

Sounds like you beat me by a year... But I'll need to verify for Guiness

What TV tuner card did you use? Mac or PC?
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post #28 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:17 PM
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Galileo's post reminded me of an important milestone: the CD-ROM drive that was capable of ripping Red Book audio. Early CD-ROMs could play it, but ripping to WAV was a challenge that only the 2nd generation was up to -- and even then, not every model could do it. There are some famous Usenet threads on the topic...hopefully someone can look them up.
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post #29 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Sounds like you beat me by a year... But I'll need to verify for Guiness

What TV tuner card did you use? Mac or PC?

PC, But of course.

Remember the glorious Video Blaster? There was an add-on to Video Blaster for the TV, can't remember the name.

And Sound Blaster...

Arggh...

I gave that machine away to someone 4 years ago. He wanted to make a Linux box out of my baby.

I truly regret my generosity.

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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post #30 of 74 Old 05-02-2007, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Berg View Post

Galileo's post reminded me of an important milestone: the CD-ROM drive that was capable of ripping Red Book audio. Early CD-ROMs could play it, but ripping to WAV was a challenge that only the 2nd generation was up to -- and even then, not every model could do it. There are some famous Usenet threads on the topic...hopefully someone can look them up.

You are correct.

I think we could not rip CDs until 1995.

But then there was an ability later on burn our own CDs with the tracks that we desired when the first CD burner showed up.

Good time to buy computers and computer parts: NEVER
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