Sunday, July 14, 2013

Media Network in Silicon Valley - in 1997

Bit of nostalgia in this post, triggered by a talk I just gave at the University of Bedfordshire on the future of radio. I was actually struck about how some parts of radio have moved at a very slow pace compared to their video counterparts. 

In the summer of 1997, Diana Janssen and I spent the best part of a week in Silicon Valley. This was a period when Netscape was hot, and Google had yet to be launched. We made two radio shows for Radio Netherlands from San Francisco and Palo Alto. Not bad, bearing in mind there was really only enough budget for gas.

We first spoke with Spencer Reiss, who at that time was working for Wired Magazine in their SFO offices. He discusses the future of media platforms and how things are converging. He turns out to be spot on! 
We also went to Cupertino. But we didn't go to Apple. We went to Audiohighway. Nathan Shulholf explained what was really an early iPod. He is regarded by some as the father of the MP3 player industry. The huge problem with AudioWhizz was the bandwidth restrictions.

Andy Sennitt and Mike Bird add contributions including what ever happened to the Investment Channel.

The second part of Media Network's safari into Silicon Valley 16 years ago. So what's changed in Palo Alto? Just about everything. We start off with a visit to the Philips Multimedia Center on Sand Hill Road, on the outskirts of Palo Alto. It was originally set up as a outpost of the Philips Research facility Natlab in Eindhoven. But they quickly discovered that consumers in San Francisco were 3-4 years ahead of consumers on the West Coast of Europe. So it quickly became a consumer test facility. At the time of our visit they were testing their equivalent of the Palm Handheld computer and an early smart phone. In the end I believe that with Philips' shift away from consumer electronics and more towards healthcare, the facility in Palo Alto was shuttered.

We also drove up to Redwood City to meet the head of Grundig USA. He was bullish about the future of shortwave radio - and had developed a great business selling portable radios through Sharper Image, airline catalogues and camping magazines. 

I also found this related programme where we interviewed Professor John Campbell about how multimedia would be by 2010. As ever, John was spot on with his predictions. This was broadcast on October 31st 1996!

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