Katz Media Player – KMP 2000 (Pippin)

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Description

The KMP-2000 Pippin is the European version of the Pippin game console from the Japanese toy company Namco Bandai and the American tech giant Apple. The console was introduced in March 1997 and discontinued that same year. It is known as the rarest video game console of all time. Only 500 devices were produced, compared to the 42,000 produced consoles of the already rare Japanese version of the Pippin.

Katz Media

The KMP-2000 was produced by Katz Media SARL. A Hardware focused French-Norwegian company that was founded in 1996 and was part of the larger Irish parent company Katz Media Holding limited. Another branch of the company, Katz Media AS, focused on software.

Katz Media became the second and last company to sign a license agreement with Apple to produce a version of the Pippin. As a European company, it focused on its home continent and, furthermore, on Canada.

Katz Media originally intended to produce two configurations of the Pippin: one as a basic multimedia system for running CD-ROMs, and a higher-end system supporting Internet access. However, to prevent further delays to the already plagued timetable, it brought out only one version of the console, the KMP-2000. This version had two different configurations. One with and one without a 50-pin SCSI interface.

Software

Katz Media SARL announced several agreements with a number of developers and Publishers who agreed to “Pippinize” their CD-ROM titles and make them available to Pippin customers. The goal was that at retail shipment, a variety of locale language Pippin titles would be available. This would include education, entertainment (games), cultural titles and many will also feature an on-line aspect.

Due to cost considerations, only a few titles were specifically developed for the KMP-2000, among which:

Looks and specifications

The KMP-2000 is very similar to the other versions of the Pippin. It has the same black color as the American @World version (The Japanese version is white), and the shape of the case is identical. The only real difference regarding its aesthetics is the Katz media sticker on the front. Other than the Japanese and American (@World) versions of the Pippin who were produced in Japan, the KMP-2000 was produced in Ireland.

Just like the regular Apple Pippin, the KMP-2000 is very region friendly. The power requirements range from 100-240 volts. So you don’t need to buy a separate power adapter to use the Japanese, American or European version. They all work in practically every part of the world. A feature which was not common on electronics of the mid 90s. This flexibility is also reflected in the Video input possibilities. The device supports three different video monitors: VGA computer monitors, NTSC TV, and PAL TV. Just flip the switch to choose between them.

The console has the same 66MHz PowerPC 603 RISC CPU as the Bandai Pippin. As far as pure computing power was concerned, this was also much more powerful than competing consoles as the PlayStation (33MHz R3000), Sega Saturn (28 MHZ) and 3DO (12 MHz ARM).

Unlike the Bandai Pippin, the KMP-2000 could be equipped with more RAM. In addition, the SCSI interface on the bottom made it possible to expand the Pippin in the future. For example, with an internet connection as shown in the photo below.

Use cases

The KMP-2000 runs on a revised version of the Pippin operating system. It used ROM revision 1.3, which allowed support for non-authenticated CD-ROM’s and SCSI drives.

This was necessary for the use-cases Katz Media intended the Pippin for. The KMP-2000 was not only targeted to consumers, but also to businesses. This is reflected in the fact that the console wasn’t sold in the regular retail marked, but only via specific resellers. Katz attempted to sell the console as some sort of set up box via its partners. For this purpose, it was developing a television-optimized browser for the console, but it was never released.

Katz Media aimed the KMP-2000 at various types of consumers. Foremost the console should be a ‘capable’ gaming and entertainment console for the living room, but, in the early days of the internet, the Pippin’s possibilities also paved the way for exploring on-line sales. With this in mind, in June 1997, Katz Media announced that the KMP 2000 had been selected by the Netface Consortium in Holland to provide access to the world’s first internet shopping mall via users’ televisions.

The diversity of possibilities that Katz Media envisioned with the pippin is also reflected in other companies with which they entered into a contract. One agreement focused on publishing CD-ROM-based catalogs for Redwall Retail Stores, and use the Pippin as an interactive kiosk that would be set up in stores running the CD-ROMs. Katz Media also attempted to push the KMP 2000 into Canada. The idea was to use the country’s existing cable network to bring in Internet access, and the KMP 2000 was to be used as an Internet appliance that would be issued to subscribers. Furthermore, a hotel chain in Europe signed a deal with Katz Media to use the KMP 2000 in hotel rooms so that guests could access the Internet. Katz Media then signed with a hospital in France, using the KMP 2000 as an online system for treatment multidisciplinary discussions.

Reception and decline

The Pippin was a failure from the start. The price was too high, the game library too small, and the computer functionalities too limited. Where the console wanted to appeal to a broad market, it could not really satisfy any of its intended target groups. The Pippin-adventure nearly bankrupted Bandai and made Apple even more receptive to the return of its creator and spiritual father Steve Jobs.

This was no different for the KMP-2000. It was released close before the return of Steve Jobs at Apple in 1997. Jobs also drew the lottery ticket for Katz Media when he ceased all development of the Pippin shortly after his return. Katz Media was too small to continue supporting the console on its own. In the end, the console turned out to be too expensive for its primary purpose, namely a cheap console cum computer with which you could browse the internet, shop and play a game. At a time when internet connections were not yet commonplace among everyday consumers, the market was also too limited.

In a last attempt to salvage what was left of the Pippin, Katz Media opened a department in Paris which focused on bringing the KMP-2000 to kiosks. However, it did not help. Katz Media went bankrupt in 1998. Only about 500-1,000 units are believed to have been sold by the time Katz Media’s websites went down in 1999. The remaining inventory was sold off to DayStar Digital. Katz Media Holding Limited has since been liquidated and is not affiliated with other companies presently operating under similar names.

legacy of the Pippin

Nowadays, the Pippin has achieved a notorious, even mythical, status as the most flopped game console and also the on of the worst Apple product of all time. This status has contributed to the fact that the Pippin is fairly rare today and a collector, in the year 2020, can easily pay 600 euros for a working specimen in good condition. Like the console, the Pippin’s games are very expensive these days. On Ebay you will not find many Pippin games under 100 euros. The limited supply and the limited lifespan of the Pippin will also have contributed to this.

The KMP-2000 is even harder to find. With only 500-1000 units made it is regard to be the rarest mass-produced console of all time.

Specifications
NameKMP 2000 (Pippin)
TypeHome console
LifespanMarch 17th 1997-1998
BrandKatz Media
Conditionused
Generation5th
Worth4000-10.000 euro
Introduction Price1049 dollar (developer set)
699 dollar (per 36 units)
RarityExtremely rare
Units sold500
Games released
SuccessorApple TV
Predecessor
Operating systemPippin (Max OS 7.5.2)
Serial Number8 mb DRAM (2mb upgrade
14 mb DRAM (delevoper)
22 mb DRAM (developer)
128 kb (save files)
Processor66 MHz PowerPC 603 32 Bit RISC Processor
GPUTaos 8/16-bit VGA
Output ports-S-Video
-Composite
-VGA
-Audio: left and right stereo
-Headphone: mini-stereo
Input ports-Audio: left and right stereo
-Two 10-pin Pippin/Apple Desktop Bus
-GeoPorts
Expansion ports-Memory expansion port: 68-pin connector for external memory expansion module
-Expansion port: 120-pin
CD-ROM modes-Pippin CD
-Audio CD
Laser typeGaA1As
Weight-KMP-2000: 3,25 kg
-Controller: 198g
Dimensions
(wide-deep-high)
265mm x 271mm x 90mm

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