February 13, 1996
Big Publishers Join Netscape in News Network for Internet
By JOHN MARKOFF
AN FRANCISCO -- Netscape Communications Corp. and a group of news organizations including Reuters, ABC's ESPN, The New York Times' Boston Globe and Times Mirror's Los Angeles Times, plan to announce Tuesday an Internet news network that can be displayed automatically in the screen-saver software of a personal computer.
The system, which runs on software created by Pointcast Inc., will permit a personal computer user connected to the Internet to receive a personalized newspaper that would be updated at regular intervals.
The system takes the idea of an on-line newspaper a step beyond news sites found on the World Wide Web. Such sites require an Internet user to connect manually to a particular Web page to view news articles.
The Pointcast software will automatically update on a user's screen, permitting a personal computer user to view text, images and running "ticker tape" data on financial news and sports scores. The company has done research that indicates that a screen-saver program typically runs several hours a day on a desktop computer. A screen-saver is a program that takes over the screen when the machines are not being actively used.
The news articles in the Pointcast system will be delivered free-of-charge and advertisers will sponsor particular segments, like news, entertainment and computers. Initial sponsors include FMR's Fidelity Investment, Fox's Twentieth Century Fox, and Quarterdeck, a software publishing firm, several people familiar with the announcement said.
The system will be commercially available in April. The software will also be available as an extension of Netscape's Web browser software.
Pointcast is a three-year-old company in Cupertino, Calif., founded by Christopher Hassett, former manager of research and development at Adobe Systems Inc. The company has financial backing from several Silicon Valley venture capital firms. Pointcast has an earlier news delivery product known as Journalist, which is available on the Prodigy on-line service.
In another deal involving Netscape, the company said Monday that it had agreed to acquire Paper Software Inc., a leading maker of virtual-reality software. The terms were not disclosed. Netscape said it intended to purchase all of Paper Software, a privately held company based in Woodstock, N.Y., in a stock deal.
Paper Software will provide the foundation for Netscape Live3D, a technology that Netscape is testing to enable industry-standard virtual-reality graphics to be easily integrated into its software browser technology.
Netscape officials said that they were working with Silicon Graphics Inc. to make sure that a broad standard for virtual reality software is created to make it possible for companies to develop a variety of widely accessible services. More than 50 companies have endorsed the new standard.
Paper Software is a start-up company based in Woodstock, N.Y. It has 12 employees. In Nasdaq trading Monday, shares of Netscape fell $4, to $61.50.
Copyright 1996 The New York Times Company