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A Tour of DK EyeWitness CD encyclopedias from the 90s

26 June, 2021

For the last couple of days, I've been going through all sorts of nostalgia going over DK EyeWitness CD encyclopedias from the 90s. Although I understood about 15% at best at that time, I distinctly remember spending hours clicking around, watching images, animations, videos, and listening to the fantastic narration in the encyclopedias of Science, and of Space and the Universe.

I recorded the following while browsing various sections in the encyclopedias listed below. I used Virtualbox and Windows XP SP3. I think DK did not mean for 1.x versions to run on anything beyond Windows 98, but they worked fine on XP, albeit with occasional screen resolution flickering. If you use a tiled window manager like i3, I found that displaying the running VM in tiled mode (non-floating) is better for the VM display, so it can resize at will without messing around with window size.

I think what made these very memorable for many kids in the 90s is the structured approach to categorized information, the interactivity provided by the software, the limited technical resources (most of these ran on an 800x600 or 640x480 resolution on 16 megs of ram), and (probably most importantly) the lack of internet access.

The video below includes chapters for:

It might be better to watch it directly on YouTube: