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June 17, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

Oxford-based Attica Cybernetics Ltd has come out with the first British encyclopaedia on a CD-ROM disk and also launched its CD-ROM development tool, MediaBase Windows, which uses Microsoft Windows 3.0 software. The encyclopedia is an electronic version of the single volume Hutchinson Encyclopaedia and has been produced using the MediaBase Windows tool. It uses a book style interface with a conventional table of contents and an index. The window option enables readers to call up additional information to the text, using an symbol system. Each page contains a symbol margin, each one representing an audio or visual addition that the user can call up. The disk will run on 80286-based MS-DOS micros with at least 2Mb of memory and an added CD-ROM player. It is targeted at the education sector and managing director of Attica Mike Lloyd reckons that within the sector they are aiming at, there is an installed user base of around 1,000 machines. The disk is unfortunately not supported on machines from Acorn Computers Plc, leader in the primary and secondary school market, even when the Acorn does have an MS-DOS emulator. At the moment the disk is in text form only. Attica declined to say when it will be released in its full audio, visual and data form but it would say that the price will not be more than that of the text disk, UKP100 for an individual user. The encyclopaedia costs UKP30 in print form. The MediaBase Windows has been co-developed with Crownsheild Software Inc of Boston and it supports data graphics and sound sequences, as well as running under Microsoft Windows 3.0. The package does not, however, conform to the CD-ROM XA extended architecuture standard format which is seen as a bridge between CD-ROM and the CD-I – compact disk interactive incorporating full motion video. The XA format will be added to the package. Lloyd reckons that the CD-I market will create a market in optical publishing and that the tech-nology will move into the home. He doesn’t see firms such as Attica posing any threat to conventional print publishing companies at the moment, as they work with them, but he did concede that with Attica at least, the dividing line would eventually disappear, and that Attica would become a direct competitor in the long run.

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