X* Press Information Service
The Cable TV And Personal Computer Connection
Kathy Yakal, Assistant Features Editor
One of the benefits of computer telecommunications is that information from many different sources is instantly available. Traditionally, that process has involved using a modem and terminal software. But recently a new cable TV—based information service was introduced that offers personal computer owners immediate access to news from around the world.
X*Press Information Services of Golden, Colorado, recently began offering a new way to harness the power of satellite transmissions, combining cable television and a personal computer. This service, called X*Press, lets personal computer owners who subscribe to participating cable companies pick up general news, business news, financial information (including stock quotes from all major exchanges), weather, sports, feature articles, entertainment, and other information for a flat monthly fee. The same cables that bring in your TV programs carry this information service to your computer.
X*Press is a new approach to the efforts by various telecommunications firms to deliver everything from home banking and shopping to instant access to news and other information. Experiments in videotex and teletext, each of which brings information to your computer or television screen, have had generally limited success in attracting a mass consumer market. But X*Press, with its tie-in with cable companies, ease of use, and flat monthly fee, offers yet another potential market.
Teletext generally refers to the transmission of information to your television, computer, or a special receiver via a standard broadcast signal. On the other hand, videotex usually refers to a more interactive information process in which your computer talks to a company's main computer. With videotex, for example, you might be able to buy stocks and bonds, select items to purchase, and engage in other interactive pursuits.
X*Press is closer to teletext service, delivering text on a multitude of topics instantaneously.
How Does It Work?
Satellite transmissions and other data are received at the X*Press Processing Center, where the information is coded to be read by the center's computer software. From there, it's sent to a telecommunications satellite, which then transmits the information to local cable systems. The cable companies relay the data via cable lines to a subscriber's home or office computer. This information is available to subscribers at the same time the information is arriving at newspapers, radio and TV stations, and news networks.
The service works with a variety of personal computers, each with different requirements. Apple IIe and IIc subscribers will need 128K RAM and the X*Press Apple Software Module; IBM and compatible subscribers will need 256K RAM, MS-DOS version 2.0 or later, an asynchronous RS-232 port, and the X*Press IBM Software Kit; Commodore 64, 128, and Plus/4 subscribers will need only the X*Press Commodore Cartridge. Information on X*Press is transmitted on each of these systems at the highest data rate a personal computer can now accept: 9600 baud.
After your system is set up and the software loaded, moving around within the X*Press system via menus is easy. You can choose to see stories in the three categories which follow.
National And International
Copley News Service
Electronic Media Services
Gannett (USA TODAY)
Standard and Poor's
United Press International
Washington Post Writers Group
Zephyr Weather Transmission Service
Agence France Presse (France)
Central News Agency (Republic of China, Taiwan)
Deutsche Presse Agentur (West Germany)
Notomex (Mexico; in Spanish)
OPECNA (Oil Producing and Exporting Countries News Agency)
TASS (Soviet Union)
XINHUA (People's Republic of China)
American Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
Toronto Stock Exchange
Vancouver Stock Exchange
Launched in January 1986, X*Press is already being used on 76 different cable television systems across the country, with approximately 1000 subscribers. Subscribers purchase X*Press through their cable service and pay a monthly fee, as with other premium pay services offered by cable television systems. They can access the information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The suggested price for the service is $19.95/month.
For more information, write to X*Press Information Services, 1536 Cole Blvd., Bldg. 4, Suite 150, Golden, CO 80401, or use the toll-free telephone number, 1-800-7PC NEWS.