Information Builders UK this week launched an offensive against the stagnant expert systems market in the UK, with the introduction of the Level5 expert systems shell product range. In reality, the company has inherited the products from the Florida-based expert system software house Level Five Research, which was acquired by Information Builders in July 1987, shortly before AICorp and Information Builders went their separate ways in February 1988. The Level5 shell, which integrates a knowledge base editor, a knowledge base compiler, an inference engine and database access interfaces, is available at three different levels: as a Basic System or developers tool, as a Runtime-Only system licensed for individual micros, or – and the company claims uniquely – in a Production Compiler version, which enables the distribution of an infinite number of applications to an infinite number of users. Consequently, the company believes the product range – available since 1984 in the US under the Level Five name Insight – will provide a practical solution to both the where do I begin style questions commonly voiced by would-be users, and the need, articulated by customers, to distribute the benefits of expert systems more widely to end users. Models currently available are designed for MS-DOS, Apple Macintosh and DEC VAX environments, with plans for an IBM mainframe product well under way. Also anticipated for the fourth quarter of this year is the integration of the product with Information Builders’ fourth generation language, Focus. Basic system prices start at UKP950 for the IBM PC/Apple Mac versions and range from UKP3,250 for the VAXstation II/MicroVAX 2000 to UKP29,000 for VAX 8800 with Run-Only prices, structured in a similar fashion, at UKP175 and from UKP1,300 to UKP11,750. The Production Compiler – currently available only for the MS-DOS and Apple Macintosh environments – costs UKP4,000.
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