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  1. Technology
February 18, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Nashua, New Hampshire-based multimedia company AimTech Corp has acquired the assets of Tiger Media Inc. The Los Angeles-based developer has perfected the art of delivering applications developed on Sun Microsystems Inc workstations to other systems through its Cats Meow product – techniques considered of great strategic importance to AimTech which is keen to maximise the portability of its IconAuthor Windows-based authoring tools. Cats Meow, which began shipping in 1991, is a system for building interactive information applications on Sun workstations using graphics, audio, text and video. It is used by AT&T Co, Eastman Kodak Co, Merrill Lynch & Co and Toshiba Corp. AimTech is planning to launch a revamped version of the system in April. Also planned for around that time is a version for Silicon Graphics Inc’s system offering users three-dimensional graphics. AimTech’s Tiger Media acquisition also ties in neatly with its planned excursion into the market for interactive home entertainment systems. Along with Cats Meow, is is to add Tiger’s best-selling CD titles: The case of the Cautious Condor and Murder Makes Strange Bedfellows to its product line. The two 1930s-style comic book murder mysteries are available on CD-ROM and run on Windows machines, Sparcstations and Amiga personal computers. The main thrust of AimTech’s business is to remain dedicated to marketing IconAuthor, however. As its name suggests, IconAuthor is an icon-based programming system aimed at non-developers wishing to create interactive multimedia presentations for computer-based training, simulations, marketing and retail self-service terminals. It presently runs under Windows 3.0 and upwards on personal computers; Unisys Corp ST-1000 kiosk terminals; DEC VMS and Ultrix systems and Hewlett-Packard Co 9000 Series 700 and Data General Corp AViiON workstations under OSF/Motif. It has been used for a wide variety of projects so far. The Department of Transportation in Maryland, for example, used it for an interactive touch-screen system providing tourists with video, textual, graphical and audio information about the city and its transport network. The screen, which is located in a self-service kiosk near the Baltimore Orioles stadium at Camden Yards, has proven such a hit that a further 33 similar kiosks have been planned across Baltimore. A computer-based maths teaching package is also being jointly developed by Apricot Computers Ltd and Birmingham City Council in the UK using IconAuthor. And as testimony to its ‘user friendliness’, an enterprising British Airways employee – a cabin crew member rather than computer programmer – recently developed a safety training course in just 12 weeks using the system.

Further offices abroad

There are now around 2,000 IconAuthor users worldwide including 100 application developers – which are spread across 25 countries. This makes IconAuthor the leading Windows-based product in its field, according to AimTech. The company also has a number of strategic distribution partnerships. IconAuthor is to be rolled out under the auspices of IBM’s Ultimedia standard this year in the UK, for instance. HSC Interactive in California has used the system to develop multimedia applications; NCR Corp will be shipping IconAuthor as a ‘recommended product’ for its new ‘learning stations’; and, as mentioned above, Silicon Graphics has also endorsed IconAuthor. Though it has amassed just 48 employees since its formation in 1984, AimTech has spread its operations to Los Angeles; Denver, Colorado; Washington DC and London. It is looking to open further offices abroad too, to complement the distributor network it has set up across Western Europe, the Pacific Rim and Australia. The privately-owned company turned in $4m turnover last year, up 124% from 1991, and is expecting to double its figures again in 1993. London-based AimTech Europe Ltd, which opened in 1991, currently contributes about 22% of total revenues. Product sales accounted for around three quarters of its turnover last year. However it seems likely that the firm’s train

ing, consultancy, courseware development and custom engineering services are likely to contribute an ever increasing percentage to company profits. But this will not affect the pace of product development work. IconAuthor was upgraded to version 5.0 last year; support for Microsoft Corp’s Video for Windows and Tandy Corp’s Video Information System was added; and a Macintosh player for applications developed under Windows was announced (CI No 2,066). An SQL driver is planned for later this year along with Silicon Graphics and Sun system support.

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