Group To Develop Standards for Multimedia Systems

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A host of national computer and software manufacturers have said they will lend their support to a nonprofit organization's efforts to promote the development of industry wide standards for multimedia computer systems.

    The Interactive Multimedia Association, a trade group dealing with videodisk technology, announced last week that it will help develop such standards for microcomputers that use sound and video.

    Currently, no uniform standards exist, so that software often can be used on only one hardware configuration. Industrywide specifications would make it easier for firms to develop multimedia programs for the various types of hardware now in use.

    Multimedia has become something of a buzzword among computer-using educators.

    Teachers in various disciplines are exploring the educational potential inherent in such multimedia-based software programs as HyperCard, developed by Apple Computer, Inc., and LinkWay, a product of the International Business Machines Corporation.""

    James E. Dezell, vice-president of ibm's Atlanta-based educational systems division, for example, has likened the advent of multimedia in education to the invention of the printing press.

    And Bernard Gifford, the head of Apple's education division and a proponent within his firm of a multimedia vision similar to Mr. Dezell's,has described HyperCard--a programming language designed for amateur computer users--as a step toward making that vision a reality.

    Challenge to Microsoft

    A spokesman for the multimedia association said that Apple and ibm, as well as a number of other computer manufacturers, are expected to back the initiative.0

    Microsoft Corporation, a leading software developer based in Redmond, Wash., has already announced its own standards for multimedia applications.

    A company spokesman, however,said the firm would also support the new initiative.

    Observers also noted that the Lima's effort constitutes a challenge to Micrcosoft's dominance in software development, which it established with the development of ms\dos, a widely used operating system.

    Ibm, for example, chose not to sup port the Microsoft standard, but in stead said it would work with the firm to rework the software for its personal computers and for "clones" manufactured by other companies that use similar operating systems.

    Microsoft's standards would be retained for the machines for which they were designed, the spokesman said.

    The imaginative also may eventually result in the consolidation of standards, allowing a single program to run on a handful of machines.

    Vol. 10, Issue 27

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