Sony Sapari / "Community Places"

Like with Gopher, it's time to do some explaining. Here's a rundown on what Sapari is, based on the 2 days I've known about it:

Sony's "Community Places" system, more commonly known as Sapari (さぱり, stylized as "SAPARi"), was a VRML2.0-based virtual chatroom system that consisted of a client (known as the Community Place Browser), server software (the Community Place Bureau), and an authoring tool (the Community Place Conductor). The first, public version of the system was released in early 1997, and some time later, the client software was pre-installed on many of Sony's VAIO laptops. This allowed Sony to grow a sizable userbase on Sapari, with Japanese Wikipedia estimating it to be in the "hundreds of thousands". Wow! Too good to fail, right?

Being a free service, Sony noticed the cost of running the servers was getting a bit costly, so... they made Sapari a paid service in September of 2001, at a cost of ¥300 per month. This caused the community to practically fold overnight, and the service was closed in January of 2003. The service would go almost entirely forgotten and nearly lost until 2020, when information regarding the system was recovered, and a small English-speaking community formed around the old chat service. However, most of their findings seem to currently be behind a Discord server, likely due to concerns whether or not they should go public with their own findings. So, here's where I enter the story!

Here you can find some of the most important things I could find on my own regarding Sapari. This includes the Client, Server, and Conductor softwares, as well as sites I've found to be of interest. I also host a public server on this domain - the copy of the client software I provide here is preset to connect to it. Let's bring back Sapari!

Though I've made enough progress to bring the service back to a functional and readily-available state, preservation is far from complete. There's still a newer version of the server software floating around somewhere, not to mention the fact that there's a lost commercial version of it equipped to handle thousands of users (the one here can only host a maximum of 12!). There's mentions of a Direct3D version of the client on archived Sony pages. The conductor software is probably out of date as well, but I'm not too sure. If you find anything relating to Sapari that's not listed here, please contact me so I can preserve it here.

There's a lot more history relating to how the service came about, which I've foregone listing here as this page mainly serves to get people up to speed with Sapari. I'll soon make a more in-depth history writeup, once I have the time.

Client Software


Sony SAPARi/"Community Places" Browser
Version 1.1(?)

To install, run the "install.bat" file. Afterwards, the shortcuts in the folder should work just fine.
The client here is preconfigured to point to the server running on this site. If you'd like to connect to a different server, the Server Setter utility is also included. ...I didn't make it, so I don't take credit for it.

Tested working on Windows 2000 and Windows 10, but the manual says it should work on anything as old as Windows 95.

Server Software


Sony Community Place Bureau
Version 2.0, beta 1

The personal server software for Sapari, as found on an archive of some Canadian professor's fileshare from 2002. There's a limit of 12 concurrent users at a time.
Directions for installation are in the "quickguide" text file. I'm currently running the server via a headless DigitalOcean droplet with Ubuntu, so if you need help running this on Linux, feel free to contact me.
Still missing is an updated version of the server (latest I could find was 2.0 beta 3), and the commercial version without player restrictions.

Conductor Software


Sony Community Place Conductor
Version ???

Authoring tool for Sapari, which allows you to create new content for the system. If you make something cool, contact me and I'll consider adding it here!
Only tested on Windows 2000. I only messed with it for a few minutes, so I can't really offer help for this one.

Links