Recently got my hands on a Vidéoway terminal (after looking for one on and off for a long time). What the hell is that? Well From the official FAQ:
"Videoway was the first interactive, addressable television entertainment system in North America. Implemented by Videotron in 1989, this system was connected to the subscriber’s television and used as a decoder for scrambled channels, as a gaming and movies on demand rental service, as well as a source of interactive information for banners, the weather, the lottery and the stock exchange."
What is interesting is that this is really an 8bit computer that had unique and official ports of Q*Bert and Burgertime, and a lot of clones: Styx (QIX). For many people in the province of Québec, Canada, this was the first glimpse of not only video gaming, but also of interactive TV.
See the games here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTSebgSdFBU
(Q*Bert at 11sec)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80CKvFqFyBU
Before you get exited over the prospect of getting to play these games, I need to tell you that they are (we really hope!) stored in a vault at Videotron (one of the biggest ISPs in here).
The analog cable channels that continuously pushed the blocks of data for those games downstream have been replaced with HD signals in or about 2006/2008. So whether or not the company decides to ever provide these later on for their historical importance is anyone's guess.
More here (french)
And google has plenty.
So! As a nerd, I was always curious to know how this thing worked. What kind of CPU it had, etc, and possibly emulate 'something', even if its just a display saying the cable is not connected. Do some home-brew, a song, whatever.
I hope to provide more info on my progress in this thread as I go along. It's a pet project of mine.
[EDIT] Why is it rare? Because technically these boxes were only rented, never sold to the customers. So they had to give the units back to Videotron when they upgraded. Finding a working unit (from a video game collector) was a nearly a miracle.