Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose.Bill Gates
The early 80's saw the "first wave" of investment in consumer-oriented interactive online digital services, known at the time as "Videotex".
It was still very early days: The PC had barely been invented, the mouse was non-existant, standards were haphazard, graphics were crude and communications bandwidth was laughable. Still, we got it to happen.
"Byte-Lite" and device-independent, the newly-minted Videotex platform gave us an international non-proprietary standard that could be used for a broad range of new media applications.
At this early stage I was one of the few people who designed the "look and feel" of interactive systems. And I'd had just earned a Masters Degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU.
I established The Communication Studio Inc (TCS) - one of the first Interactive design service bureaus in the nation.
During the the next few years we did a lot of work with technology and communication firms, as well as some of the earliest online publishers, advertisers, and transactional services players.
It was clear that the emerging "electronic publishing" arena needed to address the practical issues of Presentation, Production, Transaction and Transformation with automation techniques and productivity software.
Ultimately though, Videotex was an idea whose time hadn't quite come just yet.
A concept born in the 70's, it assumed "big iron" mainframe servers, dumb user terminals, and services that were dominated by huge corporate conglomerates. Deregulation, unanticipated technology leaps (like PC's) and a failure of service providers to play together gracefully all undermined the original centralized business model.
It was interesting, cutting edge work in exciting times. The future looked bright - and very, very near. TCS worked with clients across a range of international "browser platforms".
Visionary Videotex was fun while it lasted - and "the vision thing" was right - but the reality still had to wait a few years.