To some, multimedia may seem like a technology whose utility lies far in the future, its applications limited to education and training.
But to others, these early computer-based software packages are a relatively crude first step into a potentially booming market for video, computer and telecommunications hardware; and software that harnesses multimedia for use in business, travel, entertainment, home education, sports, recreation and more.
Under test at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, for instance, is a courseware system called the Perseus Project. Since 1987 a team of classicists and classical archaeologists has been working on a multimedia data base for studying Ancient Greek literature, history and archaeology.
The project, named for the mythological hero who explored the world's edges, is funded until 1994 primarily by the Annenberg-Corporation for Public Broadcasting Project and Apple Computer, the Packard Humanities Institute, Xerox Corp., Boston University, Bowdoin College and Harvard University.
According to NIST computer scientist Judi Moline, Perseus contains a data base of Greek texts and translations of the period's major authors, a dictionary, and color video images and line drawings of archaeological objects.
An accompanying videodisk has color images of archaeological objects, and an atlas of topographic Greek maps annotated with toponyms represented as black and white graphics of Landsat images. Electronically linked to the atlas are plans of major sites in classical Greece shown at different magnifications, and still and moving images of sites all over Greece.
The non-profit Perseus enterprise, based at Harvard' Department of the Classics, will sell optical disks for about $60. -- Perseus 1.0 will be issued this month.