Second Coming

Photo-illustration for TIME by JONATHAN BARKAT

50% of PCs sold in Japan in January came with built-in hardware and software allowing them to handle TV signals

Remember WebTV? Microsoft's accountants sure do. The software superpower spent $425 million to buy and promote a system that married the brains of the personal computer with the entertainment value of television, allowing people to surf the Internet and watch Seinfeld on the same monitor. Like a lot of doomed info-age ideas, it had its own buzzword: convergence, a concept that predicted the blurring of boundaries between smart boxes (the PC) and dumb ones (the TV). Problem was, people loved their idiot box just the way it was, idiotic. So the PC stayed...

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