Old CD’s: Games, Encyclopedia, Apps.

Reviews About Old Software on CD-ROM from the 1990’s

Scientific American Library: The Planets November 22, 2008

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Science & Nature

Scientific American Library: The Planets

Scientific American Library: The Planets (Byron Preiss Multimedia/Simon & Schuster Interactive) is chiefly a collection of short computer animations concerning different planetary phenomena. They’ve added a few other gadgets, however, to remove the project from the realm of videotape – include a virtual observatory, they thought, and all of a sudden you’ve got a CD-ROM. And so they did. Two of the four “chapters” on the disc are different ways of browsing through the computer animations, which are supplemented by audio and text. The other two chapters are a virtual observatory (a lesser one than the excellent simulation on Redshift) and a “Solar System Kit,” which lets you fool around with real planets or create your own, then watch them spiral into the sun if you didn’t balance things right. The Kit sounds like more fun than it is; your options are fairly limited, and the graphics could have been accomplished by an Atari 2600 fifteen years ago. The computer animations are a bit better, but could easily be on videotape. The high point of the disc is an animated flight over earth that sends the camera swooping down among the clouds, reminiscent of the Project Genesis graphics in Star Trek II. The disc is not bad, but it certainly doesn’t to live up to its billing as “The Ultimate Astronomy CD-ROM.”

– April 1996

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