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2 Firms Join Forces To Develop Multimedia Products

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One of the nation's largest publishers and a leading developer of educational software have agreed to jointly develop, publish, and distribute multimedia products for the education market.

Paramount Publishing, a New York-based subsidiary of Paramount Communications, and Davidson & Associates, a California-based educational software developer, announced the agreement this month.

Under the agreement, Davidson will develop curriculum-based software for Paramount aimed at the elementary, secondary, and higher-education markets for multimedia products.

Multimedia, though still a vague term in the industry, refers generally to software that combines the elements of text, graphics, animation, sound, and video.

The companies estimate the value of the market at $1 billion.

Paramount plans to spend $50 million to develop the software.

Although closely identified with the entertainment industry, Paramount Publishing also owns the Computer Curriculum Corporation, a leading developer of integrated-learning systems.

The popular school-based systems are centralized software programs that present lessons to students over a networked system.

Evolutionary Step

C.C.C.'s "SuccessMaker'' product, which the company argues allows it to predict student performance, is being used by Education Alternatives Inc. in several private schools the company is operating in Baltimore.

"This alliance [with Davidson] is an important step in our evolution into the largest interactive publisher,'' said Richard Snyder, the chairman of Paramount Publishing.

As preparation for entering the multimedia market, Paramount has been converting its printed texts into a digital computer format since 1991.

Under the five-year agreement, the companies propose to significantly expand Paramount's educational-software line.

The companies will jointly develop products that will be marketed along with more traditional products, including textbooks published by three Paramount subsidiaries: Prentice Hall, Silver Burdett Ginn, and C.C.C.

"We are approaching the day when multimedia tools will no longer be considered ancillary to traditional textbooks,'' said Bob Davidson, the founder and chief executive officer of Davidson & Associates.

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