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Proximity Technology Inc, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has teamed up with Merriam-Webster Publishing to create and launch what it claims is the industry’s first electronic thesaurus to provide both meanings and inflections. The new product, called the Proximity/Merriam-Webster Pop-Up Thesaurus, offers 470,000 synonyms, double the usual number, for 40,000 entry points – 20,000 root words and phrases, and 20,000 word forms. The thesaurus provides a list of meanings for the entry word. The user then chooses a suitable meaning, and the screen displays a list of synonyms for only that meaning. If further reference is desired, the user can choose among the synonyms and look at their meanings, and so on until the mot most juste is unearthed. The most striking feature of the product is the effect of the compression algorithms developed by Proximity, which squeeze the pop-up thesaurus onto a single 360Kb disk and enable it to get by with only 84Kb of main memory. Proximity is marketing the thesaurus to software publishers and manufacturers of microcomputer-based word processing and desktop publishing systems. The Proximity/Merriam-Webster Thesaurus is available immediately, but Proximity ain’t saying how much publishers will have to pay.

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