Specifications announced for low-cost multimedia personal computing

Business Wire

November 27, 1990

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- John V. Roach, chairman and chief executive officer of Tandy Corp., and William H. Gates III, chairman of Microsoft Corp., announced today a set of hardware and software standards for affordable personal computer-based multimedia systems.

The systems integrate high-quality digital audio from various sources, photographic images, animation and text. The announcement was made at a press briefing preceding the Multimedia Developers' Conference in San Jose.

Tandy has played a key role in specifying and promoting the multimedia standard. In addition, a group of leading computer hardware and software vendors have joined in, contributed to the effort, and announced support for the system standards.

``Multimedia is an exciting advance in personal computing,'' said Roach, ``and setting specifications early means there will be more software, developed sooner, which will operate on a wide variety of hardware platforms.''

As the hardware specifications are defined, any PC owner who has (or can upgrade to) at least a 10 MHz 80286-equipped AT-compatible with VGA graphics, 2MB of memory and a 30MB or larger hard disk, will be able to add multimedia capability to that existing system.

Tandy Corp. also announced that it is currently shipping complete software development systems. The systems, specially-priced to qualified developers, are based on the Tandy 4025 LX computer, which uses a 25MHz Intel '386 processor. The system provides the necessary processor, RAM, hard disk and CD-ROM drive, plus all the video and sound capabilities needed to develop Multimedia PC software.

Multimedia will have broad appeal in the business, education and home markets. The combination of digital audio, pictures and data will add new dimensions to training, presentation, productivity, education and entertainment products, and open new possibilities for the use of personal computers in many areas.

``An affordable system for delivery of multimedia applications to PC users is key,'' said Roach.

The software specifications are based on Microsoft's Windows 3.0 graphical interface. Extensions are being added to let Windows work with audio and video peripherals, much like it works with floppy and hard disks today.

Tandy has committed to support the new standards with both technology and products. The company is making a significant investment to develop the necessary hardware at affordable prices, and in a format that will allow many existing PC owners to upgrade their systems.

Affordable PC-based multimedia requires some innovative hardware development. For example, a low-cost CD-ROM drive is needed, which can sustain higher data transfer rates than is possible with today's typical drives. The specifications also require the ability to capture, play and mix high-quality digital audio from a variety of sources, with considerable flexibility and control.

``The goals are quite challenging for PC manufacturers,'' said Roach, ``however, while the standards provide the necessary focus for software development, they still allow for innovation and product differentiation on the part of PC makers. For our part, we believe recent achievements and ongoing development efforts will let us meet both performance and price objectives.

``During 1991, we will bring to market a family of multimedia hardware that will be sold through our nationwide Radio Shack technology store chain,'' he added. ``Multimedia will play an important role in our PC strategy for the 1990s.''

Tandy Corp. manufactures the leading brand of PC-compatible computers in the U.S.A., and is the largest U.S.A. retailer of consumer electronics.


-- Radio Shack is a registered service mark used by Tandy Corp.

-- Tandy is a registered trademark of Tandy Corp.

-- '386 is a registered trademark of Intel Corp.

-- Windows is a trademark of Microsoft Corp.

(End of advance for release Tuesday 7 p.m. CST)

CONTACT: Tandy Corp. Ed Juge, 817/390-3549

Copyright (c) 1990, Business Wire