19 Facts About WebTV


Original WebTV network relied on a Solaris backend network and telephone lines to deliver service to customers via dial-up, with "frontend servers" that talk directly to boxes using a custom protocol, the WebTV Protocol, to authenticate users and deliver content to boxes.

FactSnippet No. 793,580

WebTV first combined computer and television as a high-school student when he decided his home PC needed a graphics display.

FactSnippet No. 793,581

WebTV went on to build software for companies such as Apple and Atari.

FactSnippet No. 793,582

WebTV thought that the people who might be interested in what the site had to offer were not using the web.

FactSnippet No. 793,583

WebTV operated out of half of a former BMW car dealership building on Alma Street in Palo Alto, California, which was being used for storage by the Museum of American Heritage.

FactSnippet No. 793,584

WebTV had been able to obtain the space for very low rent, but it was suboptimal for technology development.

FactSnippet No. 793,585

WebTV used the financing to develop the online service that the set-top boxes connected to.

FactSnippet No. 793,586

WebTV achieved profitability by Spring 1998, and grossed over US$1.

FactSnippet No. 793,587

WebTV utilized strong encryption, specifically the 128-bit encryption used to communicate with its proprietary service, upon launch in 1996, WebTV was classified as "munitions" by the United States government and was therefore barred from export under United States security laws at the time.

FactSnippet No. 793,588

Two years later, in October 1998, WebTV obtained a special exemption permitting its export, despite the strong encryption, and shortly thereafter, laws concerning export of cryptography in the United States were changed to generally permit the export of strong encryption.

FactSnippet No. 793,589

Gates' interest was piqued, and negotiations between Microsoft and WebTV rapidly proceeded to closure, with both sides working around the clock to get the deal done.

FactSnippet No. 793,590

The acquisition price was US$503 million, but WebTV was so young a company that most of the employees' stock options had yet to be vested.

FactSnippet No. 793,591

Subsequent to the acquisition, WebTV became a Silicon Valley-based division of Microsoft, with Steve Perlman as its president.

FactSnippet No. 793,592

The WebTV division began developing most of Microsoft's television-based products, including the first satellite Digital Video Recorders, Microsoft's cable TV products, the Xbox 360 hardware, and Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV platform.

FactSnippet No. 793,593

Since the WebTV set-top box was a dedicated web-browsing appliance that did not need to be based on a standard operating system, the cost of licensing an operating system could be avoided.

FactSnippet No. 793,594

Around Fall 1998, plans for a "Derby" revision of the WebTV Plus were announced, which was rumored to have a faster CPU and more memory.

FactSnippet No. 793,595

WebTV produced reference designs of models incorporating a disk-based personal video recorder and a satellite tuner for EchoStar's Dish Network and for DirecTV .

FactSnippet No. 793,596

The WebTV browser translated HTML frames as tables in order to avoid the need for a mouse.

FactSnippet No. 793,597

In Japan, WebTV had a small run starting around late 1997, with a couple "Classic" Japanese units being released with hard drives and two times more RAM than American Classic and Old Plus units at the time, and in Spring of 1999, allowed customers to choose the option of utilizing Sega's Dreamcast video game console, which came with a built-in modem, to access WebTV.

FactSnippet No. 793,598