The University of Chicago Magazine October 1995
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Digital Vision

A Robert Winter Glossary

In his quest for clarity, Robert Winter peppers his musical guides with electronic cross-references-in the case of his Dvovrák CD-ROM, more than 500 entries on concepts and people, from "absolute music" to composer Camille W. Zecker. Below, an eclectic introduction to the author's world, from Calliope Media to The Voyager Company.

Calliope Media.

A creator of multimedia software, founded last year by Winter and Jay Heifetz. Due in November is its second title, Robert Winter's Crazy for Ragtime (for Macintosh and Windows).


A source of read-only memory (ROM) that looks like a regular audio CD and holds hundreds of times more data than a floppy disk. The extra capacity and snappy access lets CD-ROMs add video and sound files to texts, creating multimedia programs. After a slow start, CD-ROM players have taken off: By the end of this year, about 13 million computers will be so equipped, up from under 100,000 in the early 1990s.

Digital revolution.

"We're at a juncture of three revolutions," says Winter, citing advances in interactive technology, such as CD-ROMs like his own; availability, thanks to the dropping prices of computers; and the global village, an accelerating trend since the advent of radio and film. For universities, the revolution "has a profound effect on everything from how students are educated to how faculty are rewarded to how faculty associate among themselves."

Gates, Bill.

Microsoft chairman, who said after a demo of Winter's first CD-ROM: "A lot of people left that room feeling like they finally understood what multimedia was all about." Putting his ample money where his mouth was, Gates' company then bought the rights to PC versions of Winter's Voyager programs.


Coined in the 1830s-and devalued in the 1990s-the trendy usage simply means two-way electronic communication. Interactive software, says Winter, should let the user's own interests define the starting point: "The manner in which real interactivity works is the way good conversation works."

MIDI, or musical instrument digital interface.

A standard format for exchanging musical information between digital devices, including computers. Using MIDI, digitized music can be manipulated in traditional ways--e.g., changing instruments, key, tempo, or dynamics.


"A silly term," declares Winter, because the concept's hardly new. Includes anything-from software to slide shows-that combines words, images, and sound.


"There are only a dozen [CD-ROM] titles for classical music that are worthwhile at this point," says Regenstein Library music bibliographer Victor Cardell, who puts Winter's at the top of that list. Hopeful for the future, Cardell will add multimedia workstations to Regenstein's music-listening rooms this year.

Print publishing.

Winter says he's seen his last paper publication-not that he holds anything against written text on paper or on screen: "No one has yet devised a better means for expressing ideas of any subtlety."

Voyager Company, The.

Publisher of Winter's "CD Companions" (Macintosh) to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Mozart's "Dissonant" Quartet, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, and Dvovrák's Symphony No. 9, From the New World. Microsoft publishes Windows versions of all but the New World guide.

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