RDI Halcyon

The RDI Halcyon was a short-lived laserdisc-based game platform. Only two games were properly released for the system. It was the most expensive video game console ever released, retailing at $2,500.


Building upon the success of his laserdisc games Dragon's Lair and Space Ace, Rick Dyer, head of RDI Video Systems led the development of the Halcyon. One of the notable features of the console was its use of a speech recognition processor and a Votrax speech synthesizer, allowing the machine to talk to the player. Dyer claimed that these features made the Halcyon not just a video game console, but something like a "living entity" that he compared to the HAL-9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. This voice system was said to take the controls "out of your hands and into your mouth."

As development continued, investors and manufacturers grew skeptical that the public would embrace a system with a high price tag of $2500. This high cost was in part due to its dependence on laserdisc media. The Halcyon never went into full production, and only a few handmade units were given to investors.

Although several games were in production, only two games were technically said to have been released for the system: Thayer's Quest and a version of NFL Football called "NFL Football: San Diego Chargers/Los Angeles Raiders". Unreleased games included a live action FMV horror game called The Spirit of Whittier Mansion, a space adventure named Shadow of the Stars, and a game titled Orpheus that centered around Greek mythology. The latter two used hand-drawn animation in the style of Thayer's Quest.

Technical Specifications

  • CPU: Z80B, running at 6 MHz
  • RAM: 64kb of combined RAM/ROM
  • Video: 560x480 @ 16.7 million colors
  • Audio: 16bit, 44 kHz
  • Storage:
    • LaserDisc, dual sided, powered by a rebadged Pioneer LD-700 player
    • Cartridge, 16kb that paired with each laserdisc and contained game vocabulary and logic.
  • Device Inputs: Headset, keyboard, radio antenna, 8pin DIN I\O port

RDI Halcyon games