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DVI Technology - Digital Video on a PC, circa 1982

Sometimes you get lucky, and are in the right place at the right time to have the chance to get involved in a great experience.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Intel's acquisition of our DVI (Digital Video Interactive) Technology group from the RCA Sarnoff Labs in Princeton, N.J. This was great and ground-breaking project that ran from 1982 to 1992 -- a decade of moving our ideas from research ideas to simulations to prototypes to real products.

So I've posted a set of DVI Technology pages to highlight our efforts. Comments, corrections, and additions are welcome.


The environment at Sarnoff in the early 80's combined deep expertise in analog television, image processing, and the new wave of digital signal processing. But still imagine the hubris of our research group in 1982, suggesting that you could compress video down to the 150 KBps data rate of a CD-ROM, and then play it back on a 6 MHz PC / AT -- full-color, full-screen, full-motion, interactive digital video.

Starting in 1983, we prototyped and demoed our concepts on our huge DEC VAX 11/780 minicomputer (a timeshared system that ran at an amazing 1 MIPS -- we used it as a personal computer), using expensive Ikonas graphics systems to simulate what we claimed we could do with PC add-in boards.

By 1985, we were working with outside developers to create pilot applications that ran on PCs, simulating our hardware with a Truevision Targa graphics board and videodisc player.

Then, even with the churn of the General Electric acquisition of RCA in 1986, we built our first DVI chips and boards, and held the public unveiling of DVI at the Second Microsoft CD-ROM Conference in March 1987. Ta da!

G.E. sold the DVI technology to Intel in November 1988, and most of our original team transferred to Intel to productize the technology, shipping several generations of chip and board products through 1992, when DVI morphed into Intel products including the Indeo video compression codec, Smart Video Recorder boards, and ProShare video conferencing systems.

This was a great team working together to do things that were thought impossible -- Digital video at audio data rates?! Real-time video on a PC?!

It turns out that crazy things are possible, and can make working hard fun too... There's a lesson in there.

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