MicroProse designs music software for 3DOAdd a new set of...


June 14, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

MicroProse designs music software for 3DO

Add a new set of initials to the Bach family tree. After J.S., C.P.E. and P.D.Q. comes C.P.U. Bach, an electronic composer of classical music who's coming to life now at MicroProse Software Inc.

It's the first effort by the Hunt Valley entertainment software maker at designing a product for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, the CD-ROM-based wonder machine that's expected to shake up the consumer electronics industry when it's released for the Christmas sales season.

C.P.U. Bach was a joint effort of Sid Meier, MicroProse's &L co-founder, and Jeff Briggs, who has both designed games such as F-117A and composed the music for MicroProse's games over the past four years.

Dr. Briggs, whose Ph.D. is in music composition and theory, said the two have been plugging away at the concept for more than a year, but only decided in the past month to produce the 3DO product.

"Sid Meier and I questioned whether this could be done," Dr. Briggs said last week. "We found that by teaching the program the fundamentals of music theory, and the composition practices of the period, we were getting some surprising results."

The result now is a program that writes music in the style of the late 18th century. However, Dr. Briggs said, "We tried to design it so that by changing parameters we could do a lot of different styles."

The program lets users tailor the tempo, mood and overall tone of its compositions. It then sets to work on composing, applying the mathematical foundations of musical traits such as harmony and counterpoint. A few seconds later the concert begins, even as the rest of the piece is being composed.

"Many people have tried to do this before, but in my opinion never so successfully," he said.

The software is a work in progress. The final product will include several options for graphics, including abstract patterns or an animated C.P.U. performing or conducting the music.

At present MicroProse plans to produce the software only for the 3DO, in part because of its high quality of built-in sound support. But for owners of other computers, there's always hope for the future.

"If computers are able to do this now, in 1993," Dr. Briggs mused, "what will they be able to do in 2003?"

Applied Research wins $24.9 million pact

Applied Research Corp. of Landover announced on Wednesday that it won a 10-year, $24.9 million contract, the largest in its history, to be part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

ARC's scientists and computer programmers will help develop a massive base of computer data on the Earth's climate and geography. As part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, many kinds of information are being consolidated to ease access by researchers in many fields, such as ecology, geophysics and climatology.

ARC, as a subcontractor for Hughes Applied Information Systems Inc., the primary developer of the data base, will act as liaison between the researchers and Hughes, and will provide computer "tool kits" so that scientists may create their software before the main data system has been complete.

"We're talking about maybe a Library of Congress' worth of information every day," said Dr. Larry Klein, deputy manager of the project for ARC. "Technically, a terabyte [1 trillion characters] every day. That volume is unprecedented, at least in the non-military world."

Dr. Klein explained that the NASA program involves sending up 5 platforms in pole-to-pole orbits, arrayed so that every 15 days they can scan the entire surface of the planet. The data they provide will help in areas such as climate prediction and study of the ozone hole.

The new data base will provide assurance to scientists that consistent records will be available for the long haul -- 40 to 50 years, Dr. Klein said.

ARC's staff for the project will increase gradually over the next two years; it is expected to top out at 43.

Service provides airline schedules

Motorola Inc. and Official Airline Guides have teamed up on a system that will deliver airline schedules straight to the pager or portable computer of a busy business traveler.

To get the new service, you'll need either an alphanumeric pager or a computer equipped with Motorola's NewsStream data receiver. After you call the FlightPage system's phone number and key in the departure and destination cities, a computer will search for the best flights with available seats and relay the results through the National Dispatch Center, a nationwide paging company.

Bell Atlantic hires information officer

Philadelphia-based Bell Atlantic Corp., parent of the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone companies, has hired Ralph J. Szygenda as its vice president of information systems and chief information officer.

Mr. Szygenda, who will work from the company's Arlington, Va., offices, held the same titles with Texas Instrument Corp. in Dallas, where he managed worldwide telecommunications, computing and management information systems and the design and manufacturing of automation systems.

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