From the August 14, 1995 issue of Smart

En Technology Prepares to Broadcast Software

By David English

What would be the worst nightmare for a software retailer? What if someone invented a way to send software to consumers through their television sets? That's what En Technology will have available by the end of the year, and it threatens to completely shake up the retail software market.

En Technology's product, code-named Malachi, works like this: A person on a television show demonstrates a top-selling computer application, telling the viewers to press a key on their computer keyboards if they want to buy the program. For those who press the key, the full program would be downloaded to their hard drives in less than a minute, ready to be installed.

Malachi can send and receive massive amounts of computer data along with any over-the-air, satellite, or cable broadcast signal. The data is included in a portion of the television screen that's invisible to the viewer, much like closed captions. The data can even be recorded on a standard VHS tape along with the program and accessed at a later date. The company describes the technology as hundreds of times faster than a traditional modem.

"Malachi represents one of the most significant steps forward for distribution and marketing to the consumer since the advent of television," says Patricia Gallup, president of En Technology. "The product allows the convergence of the two most powerful and popular entertainment and information technologies—the television and the personal computer."

En Technology was founded in January by Gallup and David Hall. The pair also founded PC Connection, which sells PC and Macintosh products via mail order, and PCTV, which produces the PBS television show, "Computer Chronicles," and six computer-related cable shows on the Jones Computer Network. Even if other broadcasters don't buy into the technology, the group could use its own television shows to send software to computer users.

So what does Malachi mean to retailers? If the system catches on, it could become a way to bypass retailers and sell software directly to consumers. On the other hand, En Technology plans to sell the receiving kits for PCs and Macs at retail for under $100. Instructional videotapes with computer data included in the video signal would also be sold at retail.

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