About WebTV

by Fraser Sherman

WebTV was born in 1996 and died in 2013, when Microsoft pulled the plug. The service -- originally a collaboration of Diba Inc. and Zenith Electronics -- was one of the first to offer subscribers the option to access the Internet through their televisions. Microsoft bought the service for $425 million in 1997 and rebranded it as MSN TV in 2001.

Life and Death of WebTV

The WebTV service came with a wireless keyboard, remote and an Internet media player. The equipment allowed subscribers to access email and browse the Web on their televisions. Microsoft later integrated the service with other products such as Hotmail. Beginning with the turn of the century, the number of users steadily dwindled. Microsoft provided advance warning so that subscribers would have time to preserve email, photos and Web pages set up with MSN TV.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images