The Multimedia PC (MPC) was a recommended configuration for a personal computer (PC) with a CD-ROM drive. The standard was set and named by the "Multimedia PC Marketing Council", which was a working group of the Software Publishers Association (SPA, now the Software and Information Industry Association). The MPMC comprised companies including Microsoft, Creative Labs, Dell, Gateway, and Fujitsu. Any PC with the required standards could be called an "MPC" by licensing the use of the logo from the SPA.
CD-ROM drives were just coming to market in 1990, and it was difficult to concisely communicate to a consumer all the hardware requirements for using "multimedia software", which mostly meant "displaying video synced with audio on a PC via a CD-ROM drive". The MPC standard was supposed to communicate this concisely, so a consumer buying hardware or software could simply look for the MPC logo and be assured of compatibility.
The MPC program had mixed results primarily because of the vast number of PCs sold under different brands, and once Windows became ubiquitous on PCs, specifying minimum or recommended Windows versions and features was often clearer to consumers than the MPC nomenclature. As the standardized term failed to catch on, and as the Software Publishers Association turned away from consumer software in the late 1990s, interest in the MPC standard vanished. The problem of software labeling continues, especially in the field of computer games, where a multitude of 3D video cards has been manufactured with an extremely wide range of capabilities, and no common industry labeling standard to let consumers know whether their card is powerful enough to let them play a particular game.
The first MPC minimum standard, set in 1991, was:
In 1993, an MPC Level 2 minimum standard was announced:
In 1996, MPC Level 3 was announced: