Over-the-phone computer data bank (Nov, 1979)
Over-the-phone computer data bank
Telecomputing Corp. of America is now offering a computer information service called The Source. Actually a large computer located in Virginia that contains some 2000 programs, The Source includes a tie-in with the UPI and New York Times news and data banks. Type in your question and you get answers on everything from the latest news and stock-market reports to methods of conserving energy.
The Source supplies information to you over the phone line using a modemâ€”a box that converts digital information to audible tones for phone transmission and then back again at the other end. Although only a terminal (keyboard and TV-display combination) is needed, you can use a home computer to send and receive data through the system, as well. There is an initial $100 hook-up fee (and you must buy a terminalâ€”$500 and upâ€” or own a home computer and modem), and you are charged by the hour of computer time ($2.75 after 6 pm; $15 during work hours).
As I found out, it is a perfect addition to a home computer; I’ve been using my system for conventional programming, then switching into the TCA system for special information. When Skylab was falling, for instance, I knew where it was before many of the local radio stations (not before the Australians, however). And when the EPA tested the Shetley “110 mpg” car, I had the results before an EPA contact called our automotive editors.
Using the system is easy, but you’ve got to be explicit in what you ask itâ€” and you’ve got to pay attention. One night, while trying to find out the airline schedule for incoming planes (yes, that’s there, too), I sat through an entire display of the latest Mexican League baseball scores.
For more info, write to Telecomputing Corp. of America, 1616 Anderson Rd., McLean, Va. 22102. â€”W. J. H.