The Video Information System (VIS) was developed by Tandy R&D in Fort Worth, Texas and sold through Radio Shack stores under their MEMOREX brand.
Released for the 1992 Christmas Season at a price point of $699.95, the VIS was almost immediately deemed a retail failure. There are stories of sales staff giving the system a nickname of [V]irtually [I]mpossible to [S]ell.
There was a plan to release a ZENITH branded version of the console. However, production was canceled due to the poor sales performance of the Memorex VIS. There are artifacts that reflect the near-launch of the Zenith system, including these boxes that were discovered at Computer Reset in Dallas. The boxes were used at CR for storing of anything and everything in the warehouse. No Zenith-branded consoles have been located in our global search. We have located a few Zenith-branded manuals, and controllers (see below).
After the retail loss at Radio Shack, the bulk of the inventory was returned to the Corporate warehouse in 1994 and liquidated to TigerDirect, a discount mail-order vendor known for their big brands at close-out prices. Tiger Direct offered the VIS with 20 software titles for the incredible price of $99.90.
We recently acquired one of the TigerDirect liquidation units, still in the "white box" packaging as it was sold through their catalog. This is the same Memorex-branded console, just no fancy outer packaging.
Upon opening the box we see the same type of pack-out that we'd expect from the Radio Shack retail packaging, including the controller, Compton's Encyclopedia, the VIS Title Sampler disc, a coaxial TV cable, and manuals for Compton's as well as the VIS console.
The console itself is just another from the Memorex production build - at this point there's no indication as to any specific batch of serial numbers, etc to identify whether an out-of-the-box console originated from Radio Shack or TigerDirect.
Other companies did in fact purchase and re-brand the console. More info can be found on the Branding page.
The standard VIS Controller uses infra-red technology; therefore the user must be located directly in front of the console and aiming at the IR "eye" in order for the controller to respond as expected. In this photo you see the standard controller, as well as the Zenith-branded one at top, a couple of prototypes from Tandy R&D, and, at center, the wired controller that was also sold through Radio Shack.
We are excited to announce that we've acquired one of the only known Wired Hand Control devices still in the retail packaging. Sincere thanks to a fellow VIS enthusiast for working with us to add this rare item to the collection!