In the Wild West of Silicon Valley startups of the late 1990s, one little company looked like it might accomplish something incredible. VM Labs had some of the best engineering talent in the world, an explosive mix of bright young minds with burning ambition and experienced old hands who once held key positions in companies such as Atari, Sony, and Sega. Their business revolved around a little chunk of silicon codenamed "Project X.” Later, they officially named their dream chip the Nuon. VM Labs believed it might change the world. (See their marketing specs [PDF] for proof.)
The Nuon was so much more than a chip—it was a complete multimedia platform with an operating system and a Web browser. It would turn any DVD player in the world into a game console. And at a time when DVD looked like it would soon to be everywhere, the Nuon could be right there with it.
VM Labs' goal for the Nuon was huge but straightforward: total market penetration. The company wanted a Nuon chip inside every DVD player. For a time, it actually seemed attainable.