Multimedia We have eschewed the term "multimedia" in this journal, partly because we haven't had a good working definition of the term and partly because it is a much-overused buzzword. Clearly it includes combining sound and movies and typography, and it has something to do with computers. But everybody uses the word a little differently. Evidently multimedia is not a single thing; it is many things with some thread of commonality running through them.
Bill Gates's definition, therefore, makes a lot of sense to us. Multimedia, he said, is any software product whose content dominates the code. That is, the information the product delivers is much more important than the executable procedures that make the product work. To illustrate his definition, he pointed out that main computer applications fifteen years ago--accounting and spreadsheets and word processing--were nearly all code. A spreadsheet, for example, is pure capability and no content; the user supplies his own content when he enters numbers and formulas.
In the mid-eighties, the Macintosh arrived and its operating system had some information content built in: the menus and dialogs. Computer games, although still containing lots of code to generate the onscreen action, started incorporating digitized sound; the code-to-information ratio began to reach 1:1.
But the true multimedia flavor comes through only in information products like Warner's CD-ROM version of The Magic Flute or Bob Abel's treatment of the Tennyson poem Ulysses. The content--sound, video clips, still images--takes up nearly all of the disc space; the code …