Authorware Wants To Be Everywhere; FCC Moves on HDTV And Digital Video; I/O; Apple to ship CD-ROM computer; Hallmark enters cable business
Japanese stick with analog HDTV; Write once CD gains momentum
A facelift for old standards; CD-I comes to a store near you
The cost to produce a CD-I title; Illuminated Books, Columbus in debut

•AUTHORWARE WANTS TO BE EVERYWHERE

No matter how you cut it, the multimedia authoring software firm Authorware Inc. is doing better than most companies in an industry still wet behind the ears. Four years after it was founded by former Control Data executive Michael Allen, with the charter of producing authoring tools for computer-based interactive learning, the company claims it has doubled its revenues for three consecutive years, and it estimates that revenues for 1991 will reach $12 million.

In the past two months, the company has signed impressive deals with some of the largest computer hardware and software companies in the business — including PC clone giant Acer Inc., Japan’s NEC Corp. and ASCII Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc. and IBM Corp. It has a new, low-end version of its flagship Authorware Professional product, called Authorware Star. It has started its own in-house titles publishing group. And in another significant shift in strategy, it is now targeting commercial title developers as customers for its authoring software. What stands in the way of Authorware’s progress from here to everywhere?

•FCC MOVES ON HDTV AND DIGITAL VIDEO

Massive changes are afoot in the world of information delivery, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is in the thick of them. In separate recent actions, the FCC has set in motion two proposals that, if adopted, will mark out a new playing field for the delivery of video services into the home.

The first reaffirms the allocation of a portion of the broadcast spectrum of HDTV transmissions — but is reserving these channels only for existing broadcasters, rather than opening them up to newcomers. The second proposal, equally controversial, would allow phone companies to carry video signals over telephone lines. Three out of four FCC commissioners expressed “reservations” over this proposal but okayed it anyhow.

Both proposals, and especially the latter, are being sharply debated in the information services business. Ultimately, these and related issues may have to be decided in Congress. We still hope that U.S. government policy makers will move in the direction of separating the highways from the traffic on the highways, and do so in an equitable fashion that allows for open competition between the two types of “highway” providers.

• I/O
Luskin sets the record straight on CD-I story.

• APPLE TO SHIP CD-ROM COMPUTER
Sculley tips hand in Tokyo.

• HALLMARK ENTERS CABLE BUSINESS
The big question is, why?

• JAPANESE STICK WITH ANALOG HDTV

• WRITE-ONCE CD GAINS MOMENTUM
Who needs pressing plants?

• A FACELIFT FOR OLD STANDARDS

• CD-I COMES TO A STORE NEAR YOU
At last, the official launch.

• THE COST TO PRODUCE A CD-I TITLE

• ILLUMINATED BOOKS, COLUMBUS IN DEBUT
But can schools afford them?

• BRIEFS
Quintessential Hollywood deal.
First voice microprocessor.
Intel on the move with dvi.
Virtual OS close to beta release.
Martians and dupes at SMPTE.
IBM, Rogers study info services.
Data Discman in November.

• CONTENT

• EVENTS

>FOCUS

AUTHORWARE WANTS TO BE EVERYWHERE
Broadens scope to include ‘personal’ authoring, commercial developers and titles publishing

No matter how you cut it, the multimedia authoring firm Authorware Inc. is doing better today than most companies in an industry still wet behind the ears. Founded in 1987 by former Control Data Corp. executive Michael Allen, who was instrumental in developing a groundbreaking interactive training system called Plato, Authorware’s original charter was to provide authoring tools for computer-based interactive learning. Today the Redwood City, CA-based firm claims to have doubled its revenues for three consecutive years, and it estimates that 1991 will ring in at about $12 million.

In the past two months, the company has signed impressive deals with some of the largest computer hardware and software companies in the business, the most recent of which is an agreement with PC clone giant Acer Inc. of Taiwan. Acer will bundle an English-language version of Authorware Star, Authorware’s new “personal multimedia authoring” product, with all of its media-capable computers.

Taking flak. Despite the fact that Authorware has taken flak over the years for its hefty price tag — the original version of Authorware Professional for the Macintosh shipped at $8,000, a price that didn’t (and still doesn’t) include run-time versions — the strategy has proven enormously successful with corporate customers, including American Airlines, Steelcase Inc., Northern Telecom, 3M Corp. and the U.S. Department of Defense. In fact, Steelcase estimates that it’s achieved a return-on-investment of 128 percent through its Authorware-based interactive applications.

But custom-designed interactive learning in the corporate world is not the only area where authoring software is necessary, and Authorware president and chief executive officer Bud Colligan says that Authorware is now shifting its strategy to develop authoring products for the desktop computer user and for commercial developers who build consumer and mass-market titles, as well as to publish its own titles under the auspices of its New Media Publishing group. This ambitious strategy relies as much on progress in hardware and software technologies as it does on the strength of Authorware itself.

FROM THERE TO HERE

Ironically, Authorware’s success in the corporate world has come from what many in the industry said was its greatest weakness: its high price tag. Where other veteran multimedia companies such as MacroMind have struggled over the years to maintain cash flow while evangelizing the benefits of interactivity, Authorware’s price allowed the company to take its product inside large companies, such as American Airlines, and design interactive applications side-by-side with its customers while also teaching them to use the product by themselves.

“Being so expensive incents people to figure out what’s going on up front,” says Colligan. In addition, he believes the cost of authoring software should cover more than initial product development and quality control. “A lot of titles and in-house applications will have more than a five-year life cycle, so your development and maintenance costs are really the key,” he says. “If the product led to the productivity increases that we were touting, then the cost of the tool was not the issue. It was more people’s commitment to actually carry through and finish a project in light of the real cost involved in the development and maintenance of applications.”

Charging for run-times. Authorware Professional’s price tag wasn’t the only company strategy that took flak (despite the fact that certified developers pay $4,000 and schools pay $995). Another was Authorware’s policy on “run-time” versions of the program, which allow the user to play, but not create, an application. Where some companies charge little or nothing for player versions of their software, Authorware charges between 1 and 3 percent (of the list price for commercial titles) for run-times, depending on volume. Corporate customers choose a rate structure depending on how they intend to use the product, but they always pay for what they get.

“When you give away run-times, there’s no relationship between the number of units shipping and what you’re getting as compensation, so there’s no business,” says Colligan. “Then you’re relying totally on your authoring tools to create your business. Our run-times are 20 percent of our revenue, and I expect that to grow.”

Colligan says he estimates Authorware has more run-times in the field than MacroMind Director or Asymetrix ToolBook, two of the most commonly used commercial authoring packages. (HyperCard, though also widely used, can’t really be counted because it’s bundled with the Macintosh.) “I’ve calculated a total of about 383,000 run-times that are currently being used,” he says. “It’s not like every person is buying a copy -American Airlines bought a site license, for example, but they are developing interactive media for 50,000 of their 90,000 employees, and that’s how many people are eligible to use the applications.”

AN IMPRESSIVE LIST

The success — critical and financial — of Authorware’s large-scale custom applications allowed the company to attract an impressive list of investors and companies interested in joint ventures and bundling deals.

One such investor was ASCII Corp., the largest software publisher in Japan, founded by early Microsoft partner Kay Nishi. The ASCII deal provided sufficient capital for Authorware to develop its first “personal” authoring product, Authorware Star.

Star was not designed to deploy large-scale applications such as those created with Authorware Professional. It cannot play Professional applications (though Star files can be opened in Professional), and it doesn’t include some of Professional’s data-intensive high-end variables and functions that measure a student’s progress. In addition, it can’t link multiple applications, and it isn’t designed to be run over a network.

However, Star does allow users to ship a run-time version of the program with a Star-authored presentation, so a recipient can view the file without owning the program. It also contains a library of “clip media,” as well as presentation templates that can include animation, sound and graphics.

A Kanji version of Star will be bundled with NEC’s new Windows multimedia computer, the PC-98GS. NEC is the largest personal computer company in Japan, with a 65 percent market share. Colligan believes the NEC deal will allow Authorware to be the standard interactive media authoring system in Japan.

Thanks to ASCII’s intercession, the bundling deal is the first since NEC bundled MS-DOS with its computers in 1981. ASCII introduced 15 titles built with Authorware when the PC-98GS was launched in September, and it believes it will ship 60,000 copies of Authorware Star in its first year on the Japanese market. Colligan says Star will be a retail product sometime in 1992.

Authorware everywhere. In addition to its flagship Macintosh version, which is in the process of being upgraded, Authorware recently began shipping a powerful new version of Authorware Professional for Windows. The company is working with Silicon Graphics Inc., makers of the new Indigo multimedia workstation and the popular IRIS graphics workstation, to develop a version of Authorware Professional for Unix (APU) by late 1992; SGI will in turn bundle APU run-times with all its workstations.

Does this mean any Authorware application will automatically run on a Macintosh or Windows PC, or a Unix workstation? Not yet, says Colligan. “If you want it to run on multiple machines today, you have to develop on the Mac,” he says. “Our intention is to move onto a cross-platform file format that will open in any environment.” He’s hoping to have the new format finished by the time the Unix product is shipped.

The company has also agreed to license certain technologies, which Colligan declines to name, to IBM Corp., and it intends to develop a new “horizontal” multimedia product jointly with the computer giant.

INFILTRATING THE DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

Though to date Authorware’s success has been based on custom applications in the corporate environment, Colligan has what he calls a “wild hypothesis” that as authoring tools become more powerful and capable, they will move from the corporate desktop into the commercial titles development community, which today uses custom tools almost exclusively for media-based titles development. In fact, he says, Jostens Learning Co. — a $160 million software firm — is already using Authorware to develop a new line of Macintosh LC applications.

He believes that authoring systems will follow the same track as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD) tool companies such as Cadence Design Systems and Mentor Graphics. (Joe Costello, former president of Cadence, is an Authorware director.)

In the mid-1980s, Colligan says, virtually every chip company — Toshiba, Matsushita, Siemens, Motorola, Intel — spent tens of millions of dollars a year funding internal development of proprietary design tools. “Companies like Cadence and Mentor Graphics would say to them, ‘Why? Isn’t your business designing chips, not tools? We’ll out-R&D you over time, so do a strategic partnership, invest some of those millions with us’,” says Colligan.

The ECAD companies then used those investments to catalyze product development into an overall design framework that allowed customers to snap in whatever proprietary tools they deemed necessary. In turn, the chip firms were able to focus on creating innovative, quality silicon.

Paradigm match. As a result, the ECAD industry consolidated, and most chip companies dropped their internal tools development. Colligan thinks the same process will happen with authoring tools for multimedia.

Today, he says, developers spend a fixed amount of money annually — whether their title costs $3,000 or $300,000 to develop — on in-house tool development, money that he believes (for obvious reasons) would be better spent with companies such as Authorware that specialize in such tools and can invest the time and money in perfecting them.

“The Broderbunds and Jostens of the world are the new electronic publishers — they really have the clout to commercialize content,” says Colligan. “John Kernan [chairman of Jostens], for example, did not want to continue to fund in-house tools development. And Broderbund doesn’t use anyone’s tools today. They talk about performance — for its new interactive books, they’ve created a way to really make them jump off the page. In time, I believe that companies like Broderbund will pay one percent of their revenues to a company [like Authorware] who can actually provide these tools and put its run-time on every system, and who can also work in partnership to create proprietary tools that fit into our framework.”

As a result, Colligan forecasts that Authorware’s Professional Services group, which now accounts for 30 percent of its revenues, will shift its focus over the next five years. Though today the group trains corporate customers on how to create custom applications, Colligan believes it will move toward providing hooks into Authorware for proprietary features that mainstream titles publishers don’t want to entrust to a generic authoring tool. “We can tell them, ‘Keep your proprietary code — here’s the application interface to plug into our framework’,” he says. “As a result, we’d only need one person internally, versus the ten we need today to implement proprietary tools.”

If that’s not enough … Authorware wants to be a publisher, too. Toward that goal, the company has created a New Media Publishing group to develop interactive titles, initially for the Macintosh and the Multimedia PC.

The group, headed by Authorware vice president Katie Povejsil, wants to publish tutorials, simulations and reference materials in the $200-500 price range, and Colligan hopes (admittedly aggressively) that by 1996 the company will derive 25 percent of its income from the new group.

“As Tom Corddry from Microsoft says, there’s only a bundled market right now,” says Colligan. “But he also said, ‘Maybe next year we’ll be able to sell them on their own,’ and I think he’s right.”

To move ahead, Colligan says, Authorware is looking for a publishing partner — “like a Time Warner” -as well as investment capital to keep its overhead manageable. But the company has some fundamental problems to deal with on the road to everywhere.

GETTING UP TO SPEED

First is performance, a problem that plagues all developers of media-based titles. Though the concept of a single, customizable authoring tool is a seductive one, developers are concerned that adding the extra layer of an authoring system on top of an already difficult situation — manipulating data-intensive media types via operating systems still designed primarily for text and numbers — might not be worth the effort.

“There’s nothing inherently reprehensible about using authoring tools,” says Doug Carlston, president of Broderbund. “The question is whether you sacrifice too much because of speed and memory usage to make it efficient. If you can avoid those two problems, there’s no intrinsic reason to not do it. But those problems are substantive. I wouldn’t want to say that nobody could ever solve them, but they’re real.”

Colligan agrees, but he hopes that part of the future will take care of itself. “What I’m hoping is that some of those things will be solved by the progress in hardware,” he says. “But they might not be solvable by one party. If we improve our architecture, we’ll get more performance on the desktop. At the same time, CD-ROM access times will get cut in half, the processors go forward in their inexorable march toward incredibly fast speeds, and it works itself out.”

A more immediate problem Authorware faces is its limited ability, to date, to do effective, complex frame-based animations and graphics handling. Today, customers must use outside tools such as Autodesk Animator or MacroMind Director for such animations, which are then converted to the Authorware format. Colligan doesn’t believe this is a big deal. “The whole concept of Authorware and a lot of these other tools is to have an open architecture to support the importing of other data formats,” he says. “In our Windows product, we purposely decided not to ship a sound editor because there were already two or three good ones out there.”

He says customers can simply buy another, more suitable tool to create animations or graphics more to their liking — an attitude that’s slightly disingenuous coming from a company that charges $8,000 for its software.

In any case, Authorware marketing director Joe Fantuzzi says the problem won’t exist for long. Digital video support is on the way, and Fantuzzi says the company has also acquired outside technologies in order to embed more sophisticated animation and graphics tools in Authorware applications.

An ambitious strategy. Despite Authorware’s noteworthy success in the corporate market, it’s clear that the company’s new direction is not a sure-fire win. Software developers have long prided themselves on being able to wrestle a computer’s shortcomings to the mat by sheer programming prowess, and they are much more likely than Authorware’s present customers to balk at relinquishing control, in whatever degree, to a high-level tool.

In addition, more companies are entering the authoring arena, and it’s a little early in the multimedia game to call who will win a pitched battle for the hearts and minds of these developers.

But Authorware has proven itself in the hard-to-please corporate world, despite its products’ high price tags, and its success has given it the confidence to sally forth with such an ambitious strategy. Its industry partners are lending impressive support, and developers won’t argue with the large installed base that’s likely to result from the company’s multiple, significant bundling deals.

Lastly, its efforts to become truly ubiquitous are not only important to its financial success. In a world full of disparate computers, operating systems and data standards, a commitment to cross-platform product development and deployment is a welcome sign that Authorware, unlike too many developers of media-driven products, is actually considering what will make life easy for its customers. The real question is whether Authorware will stop short of fully realizing that final, most important goal.

Denise Caruso

FCC MOVES TO ACCELERATE DIGITAL VIDEO & HDTV

Video from your phone company, HDTV reserved for existing broadcasters
In two separate actions, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set in motion proposals that, if adopted, will mark out a new playing field for delivery of video services to the home. Both proposals are certain to generate debate, challenges and controversy. One will almost certainly end up in Congress’s lap.

HDTV TO EXISTING BROADCASTERS

The first proposal reaffirms the allocation of a portion of the broadcast spectrum for transmission of HDTV broadcasts and reserves these channels for existing broadcasters rather than opening them to newcomers.

The unanimous 5-0 decision underlines the FCC’s commitment to over-the-air broadcast of HDTV. In essence, the FCC has decided not to cut into the frequencies allocated for HDTV to satisfy the intense demand for additional channels for two-way radio communication.

The more controversial portion of the proposal reserves the HDTV channels for use by existing broadcasters. The theory has been that broadcasters will transmit the same programs simultaneously on two different channels: one for existing (analog) NTSC broadcasts, the other for new (most likely digital) HDTV signals. More recently, broadcasters have asked the FCC for permission to broadcast different programming on the different channels. (Since HDTV sets will also receive existing broadcast signals, broadcasters ask, why bother transmitting news programs in HDTV?)

This opened up the question of allocating some HDTV channels to new entrants. If you are going to allow broadcast of different programs on HDTV and NTSC channels, why not allow new entrants to compete for the new HDTV channels?

Despite its professed commitment to open markets and competition, the FCC has now decided that it will not do this — at least not initially. Instead, the new channels will be reserved for existing broadcasters. The rationale is that existing broadcasters will be able to bring HDTV to the market more quickly than will new entrants.

The hot breath of competition. This logic completely escapes us. As we explain below, the FCC will be giving broadcasters a five-year window (starting in 1993) to get HDTV broadcasts up and running. But why should broadcasters rush to make the substantial investment in HD any sooner than they have to? If there is any lesson we should have learned by now, it is that the best way to encourage innovation is to open markets to the hot breath of competition. If the FCC really wants broadcasters to move quickly, it should allow new entrants to compete for HD licenses. That is the way to motivate existing broadcasters to invest now to ensure their position in the new HD market.

The next step in the procedure will be for the FCC to accept “comments” from interested parties before adopting a final ruling. As it currently stands, the proposal gives broadcasters three years (starting in July 1993, when the FCC expects to select an HDTV standard) to apply for an extra channel, and two years after that to put transmission into service. There is a vague threat that channels not used by existing broadcasters may be awarded to new competitors, and could even be re-allocated for land-based mobile radio services. It makes sense to reserve a spectrum of the bandwidth for HD transmission, but it doesn’t make sense not to open the spectrum to competition from the get-go.

VIDEO FROM THE PHONE COMPANY

The second proposal would allow phone companies to carry video signals and to provide “dial tone” video services.

The basic logic of this proposal states that allowing the local phone companies to provide video services over phone lines will give them incentive to bring high-bandwidth fiber-optic lines to the home and will provide competition for cable TV operators.

To ensure open access to telco video delivery, the proposal would require that the fiber-optic highway be open to anyone who wants to provide video services and is willing to pay the standard (regulated) rates. However, one must question how the FCC intends to enforce such open access and to ensure that competitors are not subject to discrimination.

Legal battleground. It is also safe to assume that competitors claiming discrimination would be loath to take on a protracted legal battle against a telco. In addition, before such sweeping permissions are granted, it would behoove the FCC, acting in the public interest, to enact strict provisions regarding how much information the telcos will be allowed to glean from their massive customer databases to promote their services.

We think that it is inevitable, though improvident, that at least this much of the proposal will ultimately be adopted.

The rest of the package will be more controversial. These are the two key items:

1. Phone companies will be allowed to own and provide their own video services. This is consistent with the latest court rulings allowing the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) to become information providers. Judge Harold Greene had (correctly, we believe) resisted making this ruling until ordered by a federal appeals court to do so (see Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 7). Cable operators, newspapers and other information providers appealed the ruling, but their appeal was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 30. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, the outcry is not likely to die down. The next battleground will likely be in Congress.

(We will publish a presentation on this subject by Cathleen Black, president of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, in our next issue.)

2. Unlike cable operators, phone companies will be exempt from local franchise fees and taxes. This is certain to enrage cable operators who will claim -with justification — that it creates an unequal playing field. If the telcos cannot originate their own programming, it makes sense to exempt them from local franchise fees. If they can originate programming, why give them this advantage over the cable operators?

Recommendations, reservations. The FCC is following recommendations made by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and (presumably) supported by the Bush administration. However, three of the four commissioners who voted for the proposal expressed reservations about allowing telephone companies into the television content business. This issue is far from closed.

Ultimately, this and related issues may have to be decided in Congress. As we stated in an earlier issue (see above reference), we still hope that U.S. government policy makers will move in the direction of separating the highways (phone networks, cable, etc.) from the traffic on the highways, and that they will do so in an equitable fashion that allows for open competition across the board between the two types of “highway” providers.

Logically, both the phone companies and the cable companies should be information carriers. Neither should be allowed to originate programming. Both should be allowed to carry whatever services they choose to carry — including voice and data as well as video. Given where we are starting from, and given the power of the vested interests involved, this is not going to be easy to accomplish. But that is no reason to give in to the vested interests at the outset and not even try to do the “right” thing.

Jonathan Seybold

Digital World 1992
Call for Topics and Speakers

Seybold Seminars is now accepting speaker proposals for the 1992 Digital World Conference, to be held June 23-25, 1992, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. All proposals for topics or sessions should include as much detail as possible.

This year’s Digital World will maintain its interdisciplinary focus, inviting people from disparate disciplines to participate. The goal is an exchange of ideas between industries, examining both the technologies and the broader issues that confront us in the decade ahead.

At this year’s event, special emphasis will be placed on the “products” that have come out of this new arena. These titles, content, applications — call them what you will — are the best indices of where digital technologies may be leading us.

All proposals must be received by December 15, 1991. Please send them to David Baron, Program Director, Seybold Seminars, PO Box 578, 6922 Wildlife Road, Malibu, CA 90265.

>NEWS

APPLE TO SHIP CD-ROM COMPUTER
Sculley makes surprise announcement at Tokyo conference

In a move atypical of today’s Apple Computer, which usually refuses to discuss products in development, chairman John Sculley quietly announced at last month’s International Multimedia Conference in Tokyo that the company will ship a computer with a built-in CD-ROM drive before the end of 1992.

Though the news didn’t find its way into headlines in the U.S., the early announcement was a pleasant surprise for many Macintosh developers who’ve been wondering why Apple waited so long.

Reports differ about exactly which computer will sport a new CD-ROM drive, or what type of drive -a standard CD-ROM, enhanced CD-ROM XA, or some other type — will be built into the new CPU.

David Nagel, the vice president of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, would confirm only that the announcement was about “a low-cost CPU with a built-in CD-ROM drive.” But others attending the Tokyo conference heard Sculley say the Macintosh LC would be chosen to be shipped with a built-in CD-ROM drive.

The LC is the least expensive color Macintosh; equipped with Apple’s 12-inch color monitor, it can display 256 colors in 5125384 pixels. A 13-inch high-resolution monitor, which requires a video ram upgrade, can display 6405480 pixels of resolution.

Chandran Cheriyan, CD-ROM product manager at Apple, says that the announcement “wasn’t a total surprise,” but that there’s no further information on specifications at this point. With no fanfare, the company recently started shipping an upgraded version of its CD-ROM drive, an Apple-labeled Sony CD-ROM XA-compatible drive called the AppleCD SC Plus, for $799. (Apple says the Plus is not a true XA drive because it doesn’t contain the ADPCM chip that decompresses the compressed audio of the XA format.)

Cheriyan says he doesn’t know if the SC Plus is the drive that will be included in the final product specifications. But whatever the specifications, “it will be a product, we promise you that,” says Apple spokeswoman Patty Tulloch.

MEETING WITH QUALIFIED ENTHUSIASM

Developers in the U.S., most of whom had only heard whispers of the Tokyo announcement, greeted the news with cautious enthusiasm.

“I’d only heard rumors about it, but that’s terrific,” says Linda Rich, director of new business development for Warner New Media, the Time-Warner subsidiary based in Burbank, CA. “It would be interesting to know the price point and the other specs of the machine … unfortunately, my immediate reaction is, if it’s an LC, we’re not developing for the LC with a 12-inch monitor. It doesn’t have sufficient screen resolution.”

Rich says WNM is waiting to see if there’s sufficient market penetration of the LC before it starts developing titles for it. “It’s twice as expensive, because we have to do a completely new set of art work and for Warner New Media, that’s a real issue. The Multimedia PC (MPC) is at least 6405480 [pixels of resolution on-screen].”

Doug Carlston, president of Broderbund Software in San Rafael, CA, isn’t concerned about screen resolution, since Broderbund’s titles are already designed to work on an LC. “I’m delighted,” he says about the Tokyo announcement, at which Sculley demonstrated one of Broderbund’s new Living Books titles. “We’ve been yelling and screaming about it, as you can guess, for a long time. It will certainly make our lives easier.”

But Carlston is equally puzzled by the long lead time. “It doesn’t strike me as all that complicated a thing to do, but maybe there’s a lot more to it than I realize.”

“We think it’s a good start,” says Tom Rielly, director of marketing for the Voyager Co. in Santa Monica, CA. “Apple is finally overcoming its religious dogma about no read-only media in the CPU. We encourage it to be an option across the Macintosh product line, and we think it’s absolutely essential if Apple is to continue to be a viable platform for content delivery.”

Rielly also says that the move is a step in the right direction for Apple because despite Apple’s superior hardware and software integration, which makes its machines the development platform of choice, the company is still trailing the MPC because its machines don’t come with a CD-ROM drive. But, he says, even a relatively low-cost color computer such as the LC, equipped with a CD-ROM drive, is too expensive — its street price, with monitor, is about $2,600. “The magic price point is $1,000,” Rielly says.

WHY SO LONG?

The pre-announcement was the most public sign of internal discussions under way deep inside Apple about its strategy for multimedia and digital media-based products and applications. By all accounts, the huge splash made by the MPC titles launch in early October has stirred the company into rapid motion.

“We’re looking at how to get competitive in multimedia again,” says Tulloch. “A lot of people are thinking about what’s going to be our long-term multimedia strategy, what’s the long-term strategy for consumer products, and how Kaleida [the multimedia joint venture between Apple and IBM] fits into that.”

In addition, one may assume that Apple is thinking about how another of its partners, Sony Corp., might also fit into its long-term strategy for digital media-capable hardware — especially because of the warm reception it’s receiving for its new PowerBook line of notebook computers, and also because Sculley also mentioned to a New York Times reporter at the Tokyo conference that Apple was in discussions with Sony about a possible joint venture.

Enter Sony. Apple is known to be working with Sony on multimedia products as well. These are likely to include the CD-I-like consumer player, code-named Fast Eddy, as well as a smaller, handheld player code-named Sweet Pea.

Whatever is happening in the subterranean realm of Apple’s product development labs or in the rarefied air of its executive suites, it’s hard to figure why it would take Apple engineers, whose multimedia tools and technology have already spurred the development of some 200 CD-ROM-based titles, an entire year to slip a CD-ROM drive inside a Macintosh case. As one developer said, “By the end of 1992? That’s too long. Just redo the bezel [the casing that holds the computer’s electronics] and ship it!”

Unfortunately, according to Apple’s Nagel, the seemingly simple task of remolding the Macintosh’s plastic is what he calls a “pacing item” to getting a new computer out the door, especially since a CD-ROM drive requires retooling the Macintosh to accommodate media significantly larger than the Mac’s standard 3.5-inch floppy. Apple even uses its in-house Cray supercomputer to simulate mold-flow analysis for bezel design, but the process — which requires extremely precise measurements — is indeed time-intensive.

Nonetheless, to take a whole year, especially with the MPC boulder crashing down the mountain at breakneck speed, seems more nonchalant than the present situation warrants.

Denise Caruso

HALLMARK ENTERS CABLE BUSINESS
A new era of personal communications?

Hallmark Cards, Inc., the successful privately held greeting card giant based in Kansas City, MO, recently announced its intention to purchase two cable television networks -Jones Crown Partners of Onalaska, WI, and Cencom Cable Associates of St. Louis, MO — with a combined subscriber base of more than 700,000 customers. Both deals are expected to close by year’s end; terms were not disclosed.

The purchases make Hallmark one of the top 20 cable TV operators in the United States. One may well ask why a greeting card company is so interested in high-tech acquisitions so seemingly divergent from its core business.

A FAN OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES

In March of 1991, Hallmark formed Crown Media, Inc., with the purpose of acquiring and operating cable operating systems and cable programming companies. Crown Media is approximately 98 percent owned by Hallmark, with the remainder owned by Crown chairman James Hoak. Hoak is also the chairman of Heritage Media, in which Hallmark is the majority shareholder. Heritage owns six television and eleven radio stations, and it is also the largest company in the U.S. specializing in in-store advertising and promotion.

A family-run operation, Hallmark Cards has a reputation for good customer service and for embracing new technologies. Hallmark has put into operation its own “Innovation Center” in order to examine the possibilities that new technologies and digital media might provide for its core business.

The first products of the Center are now entering the market. Hallmark is installing interactive kiosks called “Personalize It” that print facsimile newspapers from a birthdate, complete with the year’s news headlines, movie schedules, sports news, etc., as well as custom greeting cards.

Outside its core business. By its own definition, Hallmark’s core business is “personal communications.” Hallmark spokesman Steve Doyal said it would be premature to speculate on how Hallmark would be integrating its core business into the new operations, or vice versa, but he acknowledged the company is looking at cable in two ways. One is as just plain cable, he said, and the other is as “a technological resource that may in the future have applications in the primary business” of personal communications.

Crown Media is structured as an entirely autonomous operation, separate from Hallmark’s Personal Communications Group, which is responsible for core business.

Looking for synergy. Bob Druten, who holds concurrent titles of chief financial officer of Crown Media and VP of corporate development for Hallmark, said that Hallmark was not looking for synergistic reasons to justify its entry into the cable industry. Its first goals will be “to effectively operate and program a cable company,” he says, and Hallmark does have experience in the production of television programming. Its “Hallmark Hall of Fame” has been generating broadcast and cable programs for many years.

According to Druten, synergistic development needs to be organizational in nature; a corporate structure needs to be established in order to bring different parties with different goals together to examine new opportunities.

This structure does not yet exist between Hallmark and Crown. But it is clear that the synergies exist. With recent changes in regulations allowing telephone companies into the information services business, the cable industry will not be standing by idly. Many cable operators are installing fiber-optic cable so they can offer increased services, interactivity and, yes, personal communications. Bingo — synergy!

Fixing cable’s bad rep. The cable television industry has a notoriously poor reputation when it comes to customer service. It is such a profitable cash-flow business that most operators have had to do little but provide the line and collect the money. With increasing demand for competition within individual markets, this may be changing. (Most cable operations have virtual monopolies in their markets, prompting calls from consumer groups for competition and government regulation.)

“Our cable companies will operate on a tough set of standards as laid down by Hallmark,” says Druten. “Our goal is not to change the industry, but everyone had better get their act together or Congress will do it for them, and no one wants that.”

Druten also believes that the new programming opportunities will be technology driven — created by the operator’s ability to provide more channels and hence more programming options — and Crown Media will be monitoring advanced technologies very carefully.

But it is only a matter of time (and not a long time) before the mass media operations come head to head with the personal communications operations, leaving Hallmark in the enviable position of having expertise, facilities and products in both arenas.

The Hallmark Channel. Given Hallmark’s historical affinity for new technology and its reputation for both service and novel products, its entry into the world of mass communications is a development to keep an eye on. This is a natural extension for Hallmark, and it seems to have picked quality partners and companies to grow with into a broad-based media company.

David Baron

JAPANESE STICK WITH ANALOG
HDTV standards for home devices aren’t digital

Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers have been active over the past few months in setting up high-definition television (HDTV) standards for home devices. Two proposals have come of this activity, one regarding standards for high-definition VCRs and the other for laserdiscs. Interestingly, both formats are basically analog, not digital.

HD VCR. Japanese manufacturers believe that high-definition VCRs will become a major consumer product category as HDTV programming replaces today’s international broadcast standards. A new format for HD VCRs was jointly proposed by Sony, Matsushita and Hitachi. A cassette with a half-inch metal tape, much the same size as today’s VHS, will enable three hours of recording and play-back, using the baseband (that is, non-compressed analog) signal.

Two different signal formats for recording HD video tapes are supported today by these vendors: baseband and MUSE (Multiple Sub-Nyquist Sampling Encoding). MUSE was originated by NHK, Japan’s national television network, to compress the analog signal for broadcast via satellite, and it is now regarded as the standard HD signal format in Japan. The new format for HD VCRs supports the baseband signal because the three vendors want to produce small HDTV camcorders, such as the current passport-sized NTSC HandyCam from Sony. The MUSE encoder is physically too large to fit into a device of this size, so these manufacturers have chosen not to support it.

The MUSE format is now being considered by the other vendors, including Toshiba, Sanyo Electric, Sharp, Mitsubishi and JVC. If it were adopted, it would immediately become the standard format for future HD VCRs.

High-definition laserdiscs. Japanese vendors also see that laserdiscs could be the delivery medium of choice for HD movies. Five major Japanese vendors — Pioneer, Sony, Matsushita, Toshiba and Mitsubishi -have agreed on a new format for HD laserdiscs. The format enables recording and playback of the MUSE-based signal for up to two hours, using both sides of a 30cm-sized laserdisc with a 670nm semiconductor-based laser.

These vendors had been trying separately to commercialize HD laserdiscs using conflicting formats. Realizing wisely that this was not the way to promote HDTV in the market, they agreed on a single signal format. The new format for HD laserdiscs supports MUSE while the VCR format does not because analog laserdiscs are not capable of holding the vast amounts of audio and video information for a movie on a single disk. While the MUSE compression technology affects image quality, the five companies agreed the trade-off was worth it.

Living in an analog world?!? Both of the formats proposed by the HDTV industry in Japan are analog, not digital. This would seem to go against the grain, as the rest of the world is looking to digital technology to realize the potentials of media integration, and HDTV is an integral part of this plan.

Japanese vendors stick to analog technology because all are in agreement that HD products should be produced now, with the best technology currently available, in order to build markets — and they feel that analog technology is currently still the best. They say they are fully prepared to shift to digital when they feel the markets and the technology have matured. Most are aiming for 1996, when Japanese HDTV broadcast technology is scheduled to shift from analog to digital signals.

Too much to ask. This is a major difference in attitude between the Japanese and their American counterparts. In the U.S., where no HD standard is yet in place, the major manufacturers and technology suppliers have taken a much longer view; future applications and integration of media technologies are the dominant goals. For them, economics decree that developing analog HD technologies is only a short-term fix. The big payoff is going to be digital.

The Japanese seem willing to throw old technology at a new market, with the assumption that they will be able to upgrade that market with new technology at a later date. One has to assume that the Japanese aren’t so blind as to believe that consumers will actually buy two new television sets in a five-year time span. The idea must be to “hook” consumers on high-definition television itself (better image quality, wide aspect ratio, etc.) by selling currently available technology, and to figure out an upgrade path to digital HD when it becomes feasible.

The problem with this view is that it requires broadcasters and producers to upgrade expensive equipment twice in five years — first to analog HD, then to digital. If the global economy continues to be less than booming, we fear this may be too much to ask.

HIGH TECHNOLOGY COMMUNICATIONS:
WRITE-ONCE CD GAINS MOMENTUM
New products, new standards and a new consortium pave the way

Write-once CD drives (CD-WO, also called CD-R for CD-Recordable) are slated to be released soon at prices much lower than those of the first-generation CD-WO drives from Yamaha and Sony. The ramifications are numerous; most obviously, they will make CD publishing possible as an in-house desktop technology, not wholly dependent on pressing plants or even on service bureaus such as Kodak proposes for Photo CD.

For example, at last month’s CD-ROM Expo in Washington, DC, JVC demonstrated a basic CD-WO “one-off CD-ROM” production station, which it expects to sell for $12,000 in the first quarter of 1992. The new write-once CD drives themselves are now being quoted to vendors at $2,500. The writable discs, expected to sell soon at $30 each for 600 megabytes, can be read on conventional, inexpensive CD-ROM drives. They will certainly be used for low-volume CD-ROM production, for “secure” applications, for CD-ROM prototyping, and as a premastering medium for submission to a CD-ROM replication house.

Newly proposed standards, however, aim to go well beyond these uses, making the write-once CD data disc a ubiquitous high-capacity data storage and distribution medium. As such, it could compete with digital audio tape (DAT), 8mm tape, removable magnetic disk media, microfilm, and non-CD-format writable disc technology for applications such as system backup, archival storage and document imaging.

A new consortium. To make possible the birth of a newly capable CD-R medium, Philips convened a task force of technical experts known as the Frankfurt Group (so-named because the meetings took place in Frankfurt, Germany).

Its charter is to develop a file standard for the recordable CD format. Its draft of an ambitious new standard, the Frankfurt Proposal, is based on the Orange Book, which defined the underlying technology of writable CDs, just as the High Sierra-ISO 9660 file system standards were based on the underlying Yellow Book specifications that brought CD-ROM to life in the mid-1980s (see Vol. 1, No. 5, p. 18).

To promote CD-R and the Frankfurt Group’s standard, a new organization, known as the CD-R or Frankfurt Consortium, has just been founded. Announced at CD-ROM Expo, the Frankfurt Consortium comprises key companies involved in CD-ROM/CD-R hardware, software and media production, including Philips, Sony, Ricoh, Sun Microsystems and Kodak.

The proposed Frankfurt standards aim at widening the niche for CD-R by going beyond the whole-disc-at-a-time recording mode of the first CD-R systems. The Frankfurt proposal will make CD-R suitable for multiple “recording sessions” (adding new data each time) and for updating as well as appending files.

The proposed standards would also improve file access time by putting extended file attribute information in the directory and path tables, thereby making access to files more direct.

BOON FOR DESKTOP PRESENTATIONS

Both users and developers would benefit from a recordable CD data disc whose files could be updated more as those on a normal computer disk are. Such a disc would, among other advantages, make it much easier to develop and distribute desktop multimedia presentations.

The Frankfurt standards aim to permit CD-R (as well as hybrid CD-ROM/CD-R discs, which the Orange Book also defines) to be readable by CD-ROM XA, CD-I and Photo CD readers, as well as by conventional CD-ROM drives. Support for specific multimedia capabilities of these formats, such as audio/data interleaving, would depend on the “authoring” software driving the CD-R recorder.

There is a fly in the ointment. To make incrementally written CD-R discs readable on standard CD-ROM drives, the existing CD-ROM ISO 9660 standard would have to be replaced with one in line with the Frankfurt file structures; more precisely, Frankfurt would become a superset of ISO 9660.

Despite the ramifications for discs already on the market, this need not be a totally bleak prospect; it would improve the performance and cross-platform interoperability of conventional CD-ROM applications as well as those in the write-once format.

The proposed new standards would in theory permit the same CD-ROM and CD-R discs to be read on dos, Unix and Macintosh platforms without sacrificing the flexible file-naming conventions and greater directory depth that are importantly supported in the non-dos file systems. Cross-platform interoperability would also be enhanced by making it much easier to put programs or data specific to different operating systems on one disc, since such specific data could be segregated into their own “tracks.” In other words, it would be much easier to create a single disc that could be played on dos, Windows, Macintosh and Unix platforms.

Is Frankfurt a hot dog? As might be expected, because the Frankfurt proposal ultimately proposes to supersede ISO 9660, it has not met with unanimous acclaim. Another standards proposal, the Rock Ridge extensions, was designed to make ISO 9660 CD-ROM discs more useful on Unix platforms while retaining DOS compatibility. Rock Ridge can also be used to define the file system for CD-R, and it can be implemented quickly, without overthrowing 9660. The Rock Ridgers seem to feel that Frankfurt is indeed a hot dog.

Frankfurt proponents, however, see Rock Ridge as a temporary fix. Because of performance limitations, the Frankfurters say Rock Ridge will never allow CD-R to live up to its potential. They say compatibility with future erasable/rewritable CD media may also be a reason for pushing for significant changes now.

Regarding 9660 compatibility, Fred Meyer, president of Meridian Data and a spokesperson for the Frankfurt Consortium, says that it is important to remember that all “old” ISO 9660 discs would be readable on “Frankfurt” drives, and “Frankfurt” CD-R drives could, if need be, still create discs compatible with the old standards.

Good news, bad news. The bad news is that CD-R or CD-ROM discs using the new Frankfurt features would not be readable on today’s unmodified ISO 9660 drives. The good news in this respect is that firmware and/or software driver upgrades are expected to enable most existing CD-ROM readers to be Frankfurtized.

It looks as if the Frankfurt proposal will be implemented by Philips and the Consortium, with ISO and other standards organizations ultimately giving their blessings, in much the same way that Philips, Sony et al. created the colorful “books” that made CD audio and CD-ROM possible.

Bernard Banet

CD-I COMES TO A STORE NEAR YOU
Philips promises 50 titles by Christmas

Amid the usual hype and glitz, Philips introduced (finally!) its Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I) player on October 16. The player, attractively styled and carrying a suggested list price of $799, is already on display in more than a thousand retail outlets, including Sears, Circuit City, Silo and the like.

Philips also rolled out two dozen titles. Between now and year’s end, Philips Interactive Media of America (PIMA, the content arm of the Philips
CD-I organization) plans to release more than 50 titles, all priced between $19.95 and $59.95. By next fall, Philips promises to have more than 100.

TOYS FOR COUCH POTATOES

As we’ve noted here in the past, CD-I has little to palpitate the hearts of techno-weenies. Rather, it’s aimed at the couch potato crowd — those who will try anything as long as it’s no more complex than watching television. Judging from the list of discs that PIMA announced, this audience falls into three broad classes.

Preschool children. Two-thirds of the list is aimed at the under-age-6 generation. Their moms will be persuaded that the discs are not only good entertainment, but an investment in reading readiness. The basic arguments here are first, there is a lot of quality material in these discs, and second, the interactivity of the new medium redeems it from being an expensive variation on the electronic babysitter.

There’s merit to these arguments. For example, Jack “Batman” Nicholson is wonderful as the narrator for Kipling’s How the Camel Got His Hump. There are also little quizzes you can take about the stories. In Cartoon Jukebox, the viewer can paint the characters in a cartoon, then watch them go through an animated skit wearing those colors.

Knowing that preschoolers lack the finger dexterity to manipulate a remote control, Philips came up with a giant, brightly colored Roller Controller. Its trackball is about 6 inches in diameter; there are only two buttons; and it’s all indestructible plastic. The accessory hasn’t been priced yet, but it will be available by Christmas.

Older kids. A fair number of video games have been ported from the computer world: Dark Castle, Deja Vu, Pinball, Backgammon, Sargon (the chess program) and others. Nintendo will license some of its famous characters, including the Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong and Zelda. Grownup kids may prefer games such as The Palm Springs Open and Caesar’s World of Gambling.

Our take is that the games are not badly done, but they are just video games. The story lines are the same as you’d get running on a PC or a Macintosh, though the detail in the scenery is much better. (In Palm Springs Open, the makers took a video snapshot of the course every ten yards. In Battleship, after you enter the coordinates for the next shot, you are treated to an appropriate motion-video clip from an old war-at-sea movie: great triple guns thundering, submarines shaking from depth charges — all the cliches.) But the games don’t do anything new with the CD-I medium. The main advantage to CD-I, we think, is that you don’t tie up the family computer to play your game. Instead, you tie up the family TV.

Coffee-table books. Many of the discs fall into the “museum catalog” genre: the paintings of Van Gogh, a tour of the Smithsonian and so on. They are collections of still images supplemented with audio commentary. Others are “illustrated records”: CD audio tracks supplemented with still images, facts about the performers and song lyrics that scroll in sync to the music.

We found these the least appealing of the lot, perhaps because they are so unimaginative. Interactivity is limited to picking the period of Van Gogh’s life to view or turning lyrics on or off. The only other thing you can do is decide when to quit.

WHERE’S THE BANDWAGON?

Companies introducing a new kind of product are usually anxious to show that there is a bandwagon of third-party support. Philips made a point of this on the hardware side; it announced that Sony and Matsushita will market competing players.

However, word from a recent Japanese consumer electronics show, the annual Audio Fair in Tokyo, is that nearly all the major Japanese consumer electronics firms have working prototypes of CD-I or CD-I combi-players, but none have firm plans to release them into U.S. channels. Matsushita said in a recent trade journal report only that it “might” ship a CD-I player in Japan by early 1992, with no commitment to a timeline for the U.S. market. Sony’s Shari Haber, marketing manager for consumer electronics products, says Sony has not finalized plans for introducing CD-I in the U.S. All are obviously waiting to gauge CD-I’s success before taking the leap.

If and when the Japanese players do arrive on U.S. shores, they should set off a round of price cuts, giving some pricing headroom for the next generation of CD-I full-motion video players (using MPEG compression), which Philips claims will be introduced in the fall of 1992.

Quiet about third parties. Strangely, Philips was rather quiet about titles from third parties. In part, that’s because PIMA has been so successful in signing up developers; there aren’t many interested producers who are still independent. The really small fry who might want to enter the market are held back by the amount of money needed — $200,000 and up by Philips’s own estimates. Furthermore, until a few months ago there were few production tools for developers to use, delaying the arrival of any independents that might exist.

While the success of CD-I will be determined over the coming months by how well the public likes the titles that Philips has lined up, we think that the long-run vitality of the medium will depend on some innovative products from producers outside the Philips fold. Diversity is key; CD-I’s real competition is cable TV.

Peter Dyson

COLUMBUS AND FIVE ILLUMINATED BOOKS DEBUT
A boon for education, but can schools afford them?

In mid-October, as the Clarence Thomas revue concluded on Capitol Hill, CD-ROM Expo convened at the Washington DC Hilton.

IBM stole the show by introducing, with considerable hoopla, the long-awaited, much-demonstrated interactive multimedia educational title Columbus: Encounter, Discovery, and Beyond, developed by Robert Abel’s Synapse Technologies, and the first five Illuminated Books and Manuscripts developed by AND Communications — The Declaration of Independence, Hamlet, Ulysses (based on the Tennyson poem), Letter from Birmingham Jail (based on Martin Luther King’s famous missive), and Black Elk Speaks.

The six products will be shipped in final form in June of 1992. Each title, which IBM refers to as a “program” or “knowledge system,” is in essence a multimedia database with text, motion video, graphics and audio. The programs incorporate both analog videodisc and digital CD-ROM technology, to transcend the technical constraints of either medium. If the developers needed motion video, they put it on videodisc. If they needed to permit the search of a text database, they put the software and the files on CD-ROM.

Columbus makes the events of 1492 the entry point into European and New World history, with topics ranging in time from ancient Greece to 20th-century America. Distributed on three videodiscs and two CD-ROMS, it is said to contain enough multimedia elements for 180 hours of instruction, including hundreds of thousands of documents and images. The five Illuminated Books and Manuscripts are contained on a total of six videodiscs and seven CD-ROMS.

The user interfaces for Illuminated Books and Columbus differ, but each provides a set of navigation tools that invite exploration of the database along various hyperpaths. An instructor or a student can request an explanation of a word or phrase, choose a more in-depth treatment of a particular subject, branch to a related topic, or ask the system to place an event in historical and geographical context, such as on a timeline or a map. They can view video clips of speakers expressing different interpretations and points of view. In the Illuminated Books and Manuscripts programs, users can see different actors’ readings of the same lines or receive an analysis of the literary devices and forms employed.

Students and teachers are also given the option of adding their own annotations to the database.

Because of their nonlinear structure and the wealth of resources they contain, the IBM “knowledge systems” are said to be useful from kindergarten through college. Teachers and students supposedly can draw from materials appropriate to grade level, ability and interests. Schools will pay a $2,000 license fee for each title; retail price is $2,857. Titles are compatible with large-screen displays for whole-class viewing, but individual PS/2s with smaller monitors can also be used.

IBM depicts these titles as important steps in what IBM vice president James Dezell calls “restructuring education through technology.” Inspired by Abel’s Guernica prototype (implemented on Apple hardware), the new IBM materials are perhaps the most fully elaborated examples yet produced of how interactive multimedia might invigorate schools and enliven learning. They represent an all-out attempt to make genuine intellectual exploration in history and literature exciting to the Nintendo and MTV generation.

They are, however, complex in several respects, and they currently require expensive hardware plus a large up-front cost to schools for the titles themselves. How educators and students will respond remains to be seen. Do these “knowledge systems” point the way to the classrooms, textbooks and libraries of the future, or are they another powerful technology that schools will underutilize?

Bernard Banet

A FACELIFT FOR OLD STANDARDS

It is no secret that most CD-ROM titles for sale today involve databases, text files or computer software, not rich data types such as video or sound. The International Standards Organization’s ISO 9660 standard, which specifies a format for organizing files and directories on CD-ROM discs for computer access, is almost universally used for these titles.

As a disc format, 9660 can accommodate any files that the operating system (usually MS-DOS) and relevant applications can cope with, including graphics, animation and audio, given the throughput limitations of CD-ROM. It is the interleaving of audio with screen data that requires going beyond 9660 into CD-ROM XA, Multimedia PC or some other format that maintains compatibility with MS-DOS.

While efforts are under way to extend and transcend 9660, a number of standards initiatives that don’t require ISO 9660 changes or extensions were discussed at CD-ROM Expo.

NO STANDARD INTERFACE

The most irritating problem for users of text- and data-oriented CD-ROM titles seems to be the lack of a standard user interface. A librarian, for example, may need to master a dozen or more different retrieval shells — and this number is growing. Because many vendors also supply parts documentation or software manuals on CD-ROM, users might have to learn a number of different user interfaces, with different terminology and menus, as well.

There is, in fact, some progress toward a solution of this problem.

A “client-server” model. Two federal government groups — the Consistent Interface Committee and the Committee on Index Architecture Standards — are each trying to standardize some aspects of the user interface and how data and index information are written to the disc for certain data types.

Despite these efforts, the most widely accepted solution to the problem of inconsistent user interfaces is to adopt a client-server model. This approach separates the application software “client,” which includes the user interface, from the retrieval engine “server” software that actually searches the database.

Once the user shell is separated from the retrieval engine, the idea is to standardize the protocols used to send requests to the server and return them to the client. In this way, a user’s favorite retrieval shell can be employed to query many different databases, created by different data preparation software packages and using different retrieval engines. There are two proposals for standardizing CD-ROM client/server protocols: SFQL, which comes from the airline and aircraft manufacturing industries, and CD-RDX, which was created by the U.S. intelligence community.

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO), part of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), is evaluating both CD-RDX and SFQL as potential candidates for a client-server standard.

While this activity is under way, CD-ROM data preparation and retrieval software vendors -most notably the large Massachusetts-based CD-ROM publisher Silver Platter — are beginning to decouple their user shells from their retrieval engines, along the lines of the client-server model. Until there are standard client-server protocols, this does not entirely solve the user interface problem, since the mix-and-match flexibility is not automatic.

Yet another NISO committee is working on making it possible to find out more about what a CD-ROM contains without loading a program contained on the disc. An ANSI standard that is likely to emerge would explicitly define a number of existing ISO 9660 fields as holding information about the disc’s “intellectual content,” such as title, abstract, producer, copyright status, data preparer and other credits. In addition, it is expected that each CD-ROM would contain a bibliographic machine-readable catalog record describing the disc, which would be valuable for automatic library cataloguing.

Bernard Banet

WHAT’S THE COST TO PRODUCE A CD-I TITLE?

We asked Philips Interactive Media of America (PIMA) to describe the kind of money it would take to ship a moderately ambitious new CD-I title. Leaving to one side the cost of the content itself — shooting the video, licensing the rights to existing footage, drawing the animations and so on — here’s how it shapes up.

Staff. You’ll need a core team of a producer, a programmer, a designer and a graphic artist. (With luck, one person may be able to wear two hats.) Plan on paying them for at least six months. That gets you to the master-disc stage; any kind of cash flow from royalties is months past that.

Equipment. Right now, the best development platform is a fast Macintosh with plenty of memory and at least 1.2 gigabytes of disk space. You will probably want to add a sound digitizing board to handle the audio. Digidesign’s Sound Tools is popular; it handles the sampling, PCM coding and the compression into CD-I’s adaptive-differential PCM code (ADPCM), all for $5,000-6,000. If you are incorporating still video, you’ll need that interface.

You’ll need an industrial CD-I player ($3,000). Unless you like flying blind, you’ll want a CD emulator, a tiny computer that builds a bit-for-bit image of the optical disc on its 650-mb Winchester disk, then accurately simulates the access time and data rate of the CD under various conditions ($10,000-12,000).

The Mac could compile the CD-I software you are writing, but it’s comparatively slow at that. For better efficiency, you might want to add a Sun Sparcstation just to run the compiler. It, too, needs a big disk.

Software. Again, we’ll leave aside all the tools you might use to develop scripts, create the drawings and title screens, edit the images and so on. But we should mention that you need a Green Book license from Philips ($5,000). Another necessity is the CD-I compiler from Microware ($1,750). It is also very helpful to license the Balboa run-time code libraries from OptImage ($3,000).

For convenience, you can buy combo hardware/software packs from OptImage. The Media Mogul package for Macintoshes, PCs or Sparcstations includes the CD-I player, a 650-mb hard disk, a range of data format converter tools (e.g., Photoshop plug-ins), a Green Book license and simple scripting software, all for $14,995. It enables you to build CD-Is with simple time-based sequences that are suitable for point-of-sale applications. However, it cannot handle complex programming jobs; OptImage has other packs for advanced developers.

Testing and replication. Once you have a disc image built, you can copy it out to tape and ship it to any of several service bureaus to have a test disc made using write-once media. This costs $1,000 for three-day turnaround service — more if you’re in a rush, less if you can wait two weeks. If the test disc checks out, you would have a glass master disc made ($1,000 for two-week turnaround). From the master, you can press as many copies as you like at about $1.50 apiece for runs of a thousand or so.

Distribution. Now you have to get your masterwork into the stores. At the moment, PIMA is the only agency set up to do that, though if CD-I gets popular there will be many others. PIMA has a variety of price structures: fixed fee, percentage of sales or creative combinations.

Peter Dyson

>BRIEFS

THE QUINTESSENTIAL HOLLYWOOD DEAL

As had been rumored, Time Warner, one of the last large film companies without a Japanese connection, has signed an agreement with Toshiba and C.Itoh. This deal, we believe, has more to do with repairing Time Warner’s credit than with technology synergies.

Time Warner CEO Steven Ross, is the consummate deal-maker in an industry where deal-making is considered the highest form of art. The Toshiba/C.Itoh deal is the work of Ross at his best: a deal so complicated that few people (other than Ross) completely understand it, but a truly elegant piece of work nonetheless.

In essence, Time Warner is transferring its movie, television and cable businesses (along with $7 billion of TW’s $8.9 billion debt) into a new limited partnership to be called Time Warner Entertainment. Toshiba and C. Itoh will each put up $500 million in cash in exchange for one-sixteenth shares in Entertainment. Time Warner, Toshiba and C.Itoh will also form Time Warner Entertainment Japan (owned 50 percent by TW and 25 percent by each of the Japanese partners). Time Warner keeps its publishing and record businesses, and (via additional preferred stock in Entertainment) gets preferential payout of earnings from Entertainment.

Toshiba and C.Itoh get an American movie/television connection without the costs and headaches of acquiring and running an American company. Time Warner magically repairs its balance sheet, increases the paper value of its company by billions of dollars, retains control of its movie/TV/cable operations, and gets preferential claim on the earnings of Time Warner Entertainment.

The Time Warner flacks would have you believe that this represents a major step towards realizing Ross’s vision of an integrated global entertainment giant. Such a deal!

WORLD’S FIRST VOICE MICROPROCESSOR

Last week, National Semiconductor Corp. introduced the world’s first dedicated voice chip. It believes that products such as answering machines and telephones will soon “go digital,” and that the chip will be the seed for a whole new generation of voice-based digital products.

Other “voice” markets the company sees as emerging are intelligent voice systems for computer transactions, such as electronic banking; voice dictation machines to replace microcassettes; voice annunciators and annotators for speech synthesis applications such as cars, toys and appliances (and even voice annotation on fax messages!); and speech recognition for voice response and automation applications.

Priced at $18 in 10,000-unit quantities, the chip is a 32-bit, one-micron CMOS device with on-board digital signal processing. It offers real-time voice compression and decompression and touch-tone signal detection, as well as a low-power mode for use in cordless and portable phone applications.

INTEL ON THE MOVE WITH DVI

Intel Corp. won the Comdex “best of show” award with upgrades to its Digital Video Interactive (dvi) video products last month. New versions include Action Media II video capture and playback boards as well as upgrades to both of DVI’s compression algorithms. Intel also announced a new software audio-video kernel (AVK) designed to allow easy use of DVI hardware with a variety of system software platforms.

Intel made noticeable progress toward high-quality decompressed digital video with new versions of its RTV 2.0 and PLV 2.0 (Real Time Video and Production Level Video) algorithms. PLV, which requires significant processing power to compress but decompresses easily, is approaching VCR quality, a level that MPEG cannot and probably will never achieve in its current form.

Equally significant is the new AVK, a low-level programming interface designed for compatibility with system-level interfaces such as Microsoft’s Media Control Interface and Apple’s QuickTime. It allows data files created under OS/2, for example, to be played back on a Windows or Macintosh platform, making cross-platform application development vastly simpler. Intel’s DVI partner, IBM Corp., wrote the AVK code, and both companies are selling plug-in boards for at and PS/2 computers.

Intel clearly wants DVI to be everywhere — the first evidence is a company called New Video, now shipping a DVI board for the Macintosh — and it has told some developers that it believes DVI could be its highest market share chip in the PC business by 1996. Part of that plan hinges on continued economies of scale. DVI started as a seven-board set; it’s down to two, and Intel is adamant that it will be a single chip.

VIRTUAL OS CLOSE TO BETA RELEASE

After more than two years of banging on the industry to support its work, the Virtual Worlds Consortium, a voluntary association that supports the work of the Seattle-based Human Interface Technology (HIT) Laboratory, has added some industry heavy hitters to its line-up. Microsoft, Fujitsu, Sharp and InSite have joined, and, as a result of contributions of cash or equipment, will benefit from the Lab’s research.

One such benefit is the “V-OS,” an operating system for virtual reality designed by former Autodesk researcher William Bricken, which is ready for beta release under the auspices of the HIT Lab. Although V-OS will first be released in the public domain, a Seattle company called Oz has been formed to market and support a later, commercial version. V-OS was demonstrated at the recent Hackers Conference in Tahoe.

Lab director Thomas Furness, the virtual reality pioneer who introduced the “SuperCockpit” to the U.S. Air Force, is guiding the development of VR technology and applications for design and manufacturing, education, biomedical research and practice, and telecommunications. The HIT Lab, the only nonprofit virtual reality research laboratory in North America, is a unit of the state-chartered Washington Technology Center.

Other members include Alias Research, Boeing, Digital Equipment, Sun Microsystems, U.S. West and VPL Research. The addition of companies such as Microsoft and Fujitsu signals that mainstream computing and telecommunications companies are starting to consider future VR applications.

MARTIANS, AND DUPES, AT SMPTE

The central theme of a recent SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) tutorial in Los Angeles was that digital technologies are making the impossible possible, and the possible easier. Speakers, including Terminator 2 director James Cameron and Pixar animator John Lassetter, demonstrated that the film and video worlds are using digital technologies for a wide variety of tasks — from “invisible” special effects such as fixing scratched negatives to the lauded effects in Terminator 2.

The hot item was digital compositing, or the layering of numerous levels of video into a single shot. Digital compositing also allows the mixing of computer-generated characters with live action, as shown by Carl Rosendahl of Pacific Data Images (PDI). PDI is creating composited effects for a Hanna-Barbera special about Martians -actually computer-generated animations — who land on Earth and interact with the live actors on screen.

Kodak announced a high-resolution electronic intermediate system (for second-generation film duplicates) at the conference. It allows a filmmaker to digitize the film, process and manipulate the images, and put it back out to film without any loss of resolution or color. It could also be used to help restore old or damaged film. The system uses a Sun Sparcstation as a host computer and adds a high-powered parallel processor from Kodak to crunch the data. Though not yet released, it was shown for the first time at the SMPTE show.

The movie industry is convinced that digital tools can do almost any task necessary for video production, and film production is not far behind. Even having “peeked under the bedsheets” at how some of these effects were created, the magic of Hollywood is still becoming more magical.

IBM AND ROGERS STUDY INFO SERVICES

IBM Corp. and Rogers Communications, Canada’s largest cable operator, have teamed up to study how to increase the efficiency of the copper-based cable and telephone infrastructures in order to develop new services that could be carried over those lines.

The companies will be working with businesses to test which services, such as video teleconferencing, it may be possible to implement without waiting for fiber optics to be widely deployed. One IBM-developed technology being tested makes use of “packet switching,” the sending of discrete packets of information, over a line that is already in use. A packet-switched teleconference transmission could be broken into tiny bits and sent down the phone wire in the pauses between a simultaneous voice conversation.

IBM is also pursuing communications research with BellSouth Corp. In addition to Big Blue, most other major computer companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Digital Equipment, are in discussions with cable and telephone companies about future communications and information delivery technologies.

DATA DISCMAN — AND TITLES — IN NOVEMBER

Sony’s Data Discman is being released to worldwide retail channels this month. Sony says there will be 42 titles on the small (8cm) CD-ROMs that the unit uses. Several of these were shown at last month’s CD-ROM Expo in Washington, DC.

The titles were mostly consumer-oriented references: travel books, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, dictionaries of foreign languages, etc. The Data Discman’s small LCD screen limits the kinds of graphics that can be displayed. The keyboard is too small for real typing, but for its primary purpose (two-finger entry of words to be looked up), it is adequate.

Sony Electronic Publishing, a U.S. subsidiary, has made it easy for publishers to get into the act by providing software for conversion of tagged text files and graphics (in Vista, PCX and PICT formats) into premastering format. Retrieval software is provided too. In addition to text and graphics, CD-quality audio is supposed to be supported, but we saw no applications that used it.

>CONTENT

Last month marked the official launch of both the long-awaited CD-I system by Philips and Microsoft’s Multimedia PC. The sheer mass of titles is impressive; and since the battle cry has long been “Titles will drive the market!” it seemed appropriate to list those announced (though not necessarily released) at both events.

For the record: to date, there are more than 200 CD-ROM titles shipping for the Apple Macintosh (distributed by Educorp) and 65 titles shipping for Commodore’s CDTV system.

CD-I TITLES

(Where no company is listed, title is produced and published by Philips Interactive Media of America [PIMA], Los Angeles, CA. Each company’s location is listed only on first reference.)

ART & LEISURE

Art in the Soviet Union
Audubon’s Backyard Birding
Drawing
French Impressionists
Gardening: Fruits & Vegetables; and Flowers & Indoor Plants
Great Art Series: Renaissance of Florence: The Story; Renaissance of Florence: The Gallery; Harvest of the Sun: Vincent Van Gogh Revisited
Great Works of Shakespeare
Jigsaw: The Ultimate Electronic Puzzle by NovaLogic, Woodland Hills, CA
100 American Heroes
Paint School by Spinnaker Software, Cambridge, MA
Renaissance Gallery
Sailing
Sporting News Baseball by Fathom Pictures, Sausalito, CA
Stamps: Windows on the World by GLYN/NET, New York, NY
Time-Life Photography by Compact Publishing, Washington DC
Treasures of the Smithsonian

CHILDREN

Aesop’s Fables
Br’er Rabbit & the Wonderful Tar Baby by Rabbit Ears Productions and PIMA
Cartoon Jukebox
Children’s Bible Stories: Noah’s Ark by Interlight Productions, Tallahassee, FL
Children’s Musical Theater by Sonic Images Productions, Washington DC
Storybook Adventures: The Emperor’s New Clothes; How the Camel Got His Hump; How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin; Pecos Bill by Rabbit Ears Productions and PIMA
Hanna-Barbera’s Happy Birthday to Me
Little Monster Goes To School by Broderbund Software, San Rafael, CA
Mother Goose: Hidden Pictures; Rhymes to Color
Paint School I & II by Spinnaker Software
Sandy’s Circus Adventure
Stickybear: Math; Reading by Optimum Resource, Norfolk, CT
Story Machine: Magic Tales; Star Dreams by Spinnaker Software
Richard Scarry’s Best Neighborhood Disc Ever!; Busiest Neighborhood Disc Ever!
Tell Me Why I & II by Interactive Arts, Santa Monica, CA
A Visit to Sesame Street: Letters; Numbers by Children’s Television Workshop, New York, NY

ENTERTAINMENT

ABC Sports: Palm Springs Open by Fathom Pictures
Amazing Zoltan
Backgammon
Battleship by Capitol Disc Interactive, Washington DC
Caesar’s World Of Gambling
Connect Four by Capitol Disc Interactive
Dark Castle
Deja Vu
Donkey Kong
Escape From CyberCity by Fathom Pictures
Hot Seat by Interactive Arts
LINK
Pinball by Capital Disc Interactive
Sargon by Spinnaker Software
Super Mario
Uninvited
Zelda

MUSIC

Classical Jukebox; Cool Oldies Jukebox; Golden Oldies Jukebox; Jazz Jukebox
Luciano Pavarotti: O Sole Mio
Gershwin Connection by Sonic Images Productions
Guitar I: Classical and Jazz; and Rock Guitar by Sonic Images Productions
Louis Armstrong: An American Songbook
Piano I & II by Sonic Images Productions
Private Lessons
Vocal Disc by Sonic Images Productions
Video Album Cover Series

TRAVEL

Rand McNally’s America: Family United States Atlas by VPI, New York, NY

MULTIMEDIA PC (MPC) TITLES

ART & LEISURE

Birds of North America by Applied Optical Media
Corel Art Show ’91 CD-ROM by Corel Systems, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Desert Storm: The Air Campaign by Authorware, Redwood City, CA
Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf by Warner New Media, Burbank, CA
Electronic Library of Art by EBook, Milpitas, CA
Verbum Interactive by Verbum Interactive, San Diego, CA

CHILDREN

Amanda Stories by Voyager, Santa Monica, CA
Living Books: Just Grandma and Me by Broderbund Software
Mixed-Up Mother Goose by Sierra On-Line, Coarsegold, CA
Our House by Context Systems, Hatboro, PA

DEVELOPER TOOLS

Action! by MacroMind, San Francisco, CA
Animation Works Interactive by Gold Disc, Torrance, CA
Animator by Autodesk, Sausalito, CA
Authorware Professional for Windows by Authorware
Autodesk Multimedia Explorer by Autodesk
Book of MIDI by Opcode Systems, Menlo Park, CA
Clip Media Library by MacroMind
DigiSound Audio Library by Presentation Graphics Group, Beverly Hills, CA
Encore by Passport Designs, Half Moon Bay, CA
GUIDE by Owl International, Bellevue, WA
Hyper Clips for Windows by HyperMedia Group, Emeryville, CA
Icon Author by AimTech, Nashua, NH
KnowledgePro by Knowledge Garden, Nassau, NY
Master Tracks Pro by Passport Designs
MediaSource by Applied Optical Media, West Chester, PA
Media Music by Passport Designs
Monologue for Windows by First Byte, Torrance, CA
Multimedia Development Kit (MDK) by Microsoft, Redmond, WA
Multimedia Explorer by Autodesk
Multimedia Links by Access Software, Salt Lake City, UT
Multisound by Turtle Beach Systems, York, PA
MusicBytes by Prosonus, North Hollywood, CA
MusicClips by Voyetra Technologies, Pelham, NY
Sound Central by Voyetra Technologies
Studio for Windows by Midisoft, Bellevue, WA
Superbase 4 version 1.3 by Software Publishing, Santa Clara, CA
ToolBook 1.5 and Multimedia Resource Kit by Asymetrix, Bellevue, WA
Trax by Passport Designs
Videodisc Toolkit by Voyager Co.
Wave for Windows by Turtle Beach Systems
Windows Information Manager by R&R Development, New York, NY
Windows Player by MacroMind
Works for Windows, Multimedia Edition by Microsoft

EDUCATION

Berlitz Think and Talk Series: French; German; Italian; Spanish by HyperGlot Software, Knoxville, TN
Dvorak Typing Tutor by Interplay Productions, Costa Mesa, CA
Introductory Games: Spanish; French
by Syracuse Language Systems, Syracuse, NY
Learn to Speak Spanish by HyperGlot Software
Survival Manual Series: French, German, Spanish by HyperGlot Software
Entertainment
Airwave Adventure: Murder Makes Strange Bedfellows; The Case of the Cautious Condor by Tiger Media, Los Angeles, CA
Battle Chess by Interplay Productions
Jones in the Fast Lane by Sierra On-Line
King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder by Sierra On-Line
LINKS by Access Software
SimCity by Maxis, Orinda, CA

MUSIC

Composer Quest by Dr. T’s Music Software, Needham, MA
Multimedia Beethoven: The Ninth Symphony by Voyager, for Microsoft
Multimedia Music Library by Killer Tracks, Hollywood, CA

REFERENCE

Bookshelf for Windows by Microsoft
Compton’s Multimedia Encyclopedia for Windows by Britannica Software (Del Mar Technology), San Francisco, CA
Guinness Multimedia Disc of Records 1991 by Britannica Software (Del Mar Technology)
Hutchinson Encyclopedia by Attica Cybernetics, Oxford, UK
Macmillan Dictionary for Children -Multimedia Edition by Maxwell Electronic Publishing, Cambridge, MA
Monarch Notes by Bureau of Electronic Publishing, Parsippany, NJ
Multimedia World Fact Book by Bureau of Electronic Publishing
Nautilus by METATEC, Dublin, OH
U.S. History on CD-ROM by Bureau of Electronic Publishing
World Atlas by The Software Toolworks, Novato, CA

TRAVEL

American Vista by Applied Optical Media
CIA World Tour by Bureau of Electronic Publishing
Countries of the World by Bureau of Electronic Publishing
Great Cities of the World Vol. 1 & 2 by InterOptica Publishing, Hong Kong
The Orient by InterOptica Publishing

UTILITIES

At Your Service by Bright Star Technology, Bellevue, WA

>I/O
LUSKIN SETS CD-I RECORD STRAIGHT

Bernard J. Luskin, President
Philips Interactive Media of America

For the record, I am taking this opportunity to faithfully correct some of the facts as presented in your article [“Is CD-I Already A Flop?,” p. 3] of July 1, 1991 in the Focus section of Digital Media.

To begin, when discussing CD-I technology, you indicate that the 68070 is an “old, weird chip” — moreover, “the Green Book specifies that a CD-I player should use a 68000 based microprocessor, the same as used by Apple Computer.” This is not accurate. The 68070 chip is a highly integrated version of the 68000 family and has a number of functions which are especially suitable for consumer products. The CD-I operating system is a real time operating system, something that Apple and IBM cannot claim, regardless of the chip. CD-RTOS (Compact Disc Real Time Operating System) gives CD-I the ability to handle the myriad of concurrent interactive processes and interleaving that occur on a CD-I disc.

With regard to your statement about OptImage, the fact is that although OptImage has been an enormous asset, its success is due in large part to the tool set developed by American Interactive Media (now Philips Interactive Media of America) and turned over to OptImage for refinement. For example, CD-I’s major new run-time engine, “Balboa,” was jointly developed by PIMA and OptImage. From the very start, it was PIMA that took the initiative and made the breakthroughs on platforms and tools.

In another area, several of the references to PIMA’s finances are simply not accurate. For example, your article claims that PIMA spent $250 million on title development. For the record, PIMA has not invested anywhere near that amount and we have more than 150 titles in development.

In regard to PIMA’s relationship with software partners, the claim that PIMA “never need pay a dime of royalties on any CD-based version” because of PIMA’s ownership is inaccurate. While it is true that in most cases we either own or share ownership in title copyrights, this provision has nothing to do with royalties. Royalties are a separate part of the partnership or development contracts and are based on a variety of factors. All of PIMA’s outside developers have royalty provisions and we anticipate that they will soon benefit from them. PIMA’s deals are fair.

In a sidebar article, your colleague Jonathan Seybold predicts that “consumers will not find the titles compelling.” PIMA research and the diverse library of software clearly indicates otherwise. To support this belief, PIMA has already received a variety of distinctions for ground-breaking interactive software programs. Honors ranging from industry awards to educational grants include:

• Treasures of the Smithsonian, a joint CD-I title publication of the Smithsonian Institution and PIMA, received a First Place MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums. The program was “head and shoulders above the competition” in the videodisc category, according to MUSE Awards coordinator Sharon Kayne Chaplock.

• Cartoon Jukebox received a Gold Cindy for first place in the Games and Entertainment Category at the April INFOCOMM Conference in Florida.

• Two Tell Me Why titles received several additional honors at the same conference, including a Special Achievement Award in the “Audio Visual Age Grand Prize ’90” competition for the CD Multimedia Category, a Silver Cindy from the Association of Visual Communicators and an IICS mark of Excellence from the International Interactive Communications Society.

• In the educational arena, PIMA, in conjunction with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), was recently awarded a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. One of only four grants awarded by the Foundation this year, the program -entitled Disc of Student Performance in Scope, Sequence and Coordination Performance Programs — will enable the NSTA to evaluate its proposed curriculum reform and improve the quality of science education.

On a more personal note, I must wonder why such a negative and speculative view spews forth toward a company which, as you point out in your section on “What AIM’s doing right,”

1. Invents a new technology,
2. Pays independents to develop authoring tools,
3. Contracts with these same independents to produce software products,
4. Liberally shares all the technological and financial support available among its producer community, and,
5. Works tirelessly to piece together the many thousands of elements it takes to assemble a complex new product such as CD-I.

With the above said, I must finally address your point on page four about artistic control. Frankly, before PIMA came into the picture, most independent producers did not know how to make this type of “interactive multimedia” title because of the diversity of the new audio/video assets. They needed both technical support and guidance in the early days. We are proud that PIMA marshalled the most formidable system in the world to make CD-I happen. No company has ever produced so much software, of such high quality, on such a complex technology in such a short period of time.

As a comparison, in the movie business, almost without exception, producers do not have ultimate control or “final cut rights.” In book publishing, every author in the world needs objective editing and every author, I can tell you from personal experience, has his or her feelings hurt and ego bruised from time to time.

We are building an electronic publishing empire for the future. It has been a learning experience, and now we can certainly claim that within the PIMA producer community resides the broadest and most detailed knowledge of this exciting technological format.

CD-I has clearly caught the attention of the industry now and PIMA has become its beacon. In that regard, I am reminded of the words of Donna Fargo when she sang, “You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine.”

For the record, Dr. Luskin was shown a copy of the CD-I article before it appeared in print, as an opportunity to correct any errors or misrepresentations contained therein. Also for the record, nowhere does the story say, as Dr. Luskin purports, that “the Green Book specifies that a CD-I player should use a 68000 based microprocessor, the same as used by Apple Computer.” This is indeed inaccurate. — Ed.

>EVENTS

Ecotech Conference: Discovering the New Mind in Business
Nov. 14-17, Monterey, CA
Tides Foundation
(619) 259-5110, fax (619) 259-1495
Do the right thing. This new conference will explore pressing ecological issues — both environmental and social — and how businesses can revise their strategies and ethics in order to effect change.

Western Cable TV Conf. & Expo.
Nov. 20-22, Anaheim, CA
California Cable Television Assoc.
(510) 428-2225, fax (510) 446-0151
A comprehensive survey of cable today, including new technologies, such as private communications networks and interactivity. Expect a lot of talk about competing with the phone companies.

1992 International Winter Consumer Electronics Show
Jan. 9-12, Las Vegas, NV
Electronics Industries Association
(202) 457-8700
The premiere location for scoping out cutting-edge consumer electronics products. This is the second biggest show in Vegas; only Comdex is larger. Think “Macy’s at Christmas.”

Macworld Expo/San Francisco
Jan. 12-15, 1992, San Francisco, CA
World Expo Corp.
(617) 361-3941
The absolute for Macintosh users. Eleven conferences in the areas of design, multimedia, programming/developing, future technology, advanced use, how-to-get-started, you-asked-for-it, special interest, connectivity and education will be featured.

Future Tense: Arts Education Technology
Jan. 24-26, Los Angeles, CA
Getty Center for Education in the Arts
(213) 277-9188, fax (213) 556-8215
Relationships between art and technology and their implications for education will be explored in this eclectic conference gathering. This third annual invitational event is expected to host more than 800 leaders and practitioners in education, the arts, and technology.

SMPTE Advanced Television and Electronic Imaging
Feb 7-8, 1992, San Francisco, CA (Workshop 2/6)
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
Contact: Nancy Engel, SMPTE, (914) 761-1100
What are the film and video industries doing with digital technology? This 26th annual event will cover topics of imaging, animation, data compression, mass storage, video/audio workstations, and fiber optic and satellite transmission of digital data.

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