Isao

From Sega Retro

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ISAO Corporation
Founded: 1999-10-01
T-series code: T-446
Headquarters: Japan

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ISAO Co., Ltd. (株式会社ISAO) (Interactive Services for Amusement Online[1]) is a former Japanese technology company. Founded by then-president of the CSK group, Isao Okawa, it was responsible for developing much of the online infrastructure in Japan during the early 2000s. Isao created internet software, operated servers and acted as an internet service provider.

At the time of Isao's inception, CSK, through its subsidiary Sega, had already been producing internet software for quite some time, supporting the Sega Dreamcast from its release in November 1998. Sega licensed the NetFront browser from Access to produce Dream Passport (and later Dream Passport 2) and, alongside local telephone operators, was responsible for the Dreamcast's network infrastructure. Isao took on this duty in early 2000, helping to produce Dream Passport 3 which was released at the end of April 2000.

Under Isao, the service which had until then been free, used a paid subscription model with various tiers regulating use, likely justified by the additions of video chat and online gaming (although the Dream Passport 3 disc was offered as a free upgrade). Isao would later produce Dream Passports for Windows and Macintosh computers, and would work with Sony to create the "PlayStation BB Unit", bringing broadband support to the PlayStation 2[2]. It also had a hand in the online components for various arcade games (including Sega's), and linked up many of Sega's game centers to allow players from across Japan to compete against each other in real time.

More broadly, Isao worked with Japanese businesses across the 2000s, not just as an internet service provider, but by developing online payment and billing services, helping with online video games and later mobile content.


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