Page images
PDF
EPUB

At the outset, let me make this general observation. Mr. Hofberg, you have indicated you were not aware of the direction our questions might move. I hope that you won't find us unfriendly if we put tough questions to you, because that is our line of work.

Mr. HOFBERG. We are fully prepared to answer any questions, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. BRADEMAS. You will note that some of my own questions, because this is a committee on education, go to the implications of what you produce for improving education in the United States. That is mainly what I am concerned about, and in the responses that I have had to any questions so far-and I don't say this critically, I just offer this as an observation-I get the feeling that there is an uneven quality in terms of experience and of concern within your industry with respect to that problem. That may be the human condition or the condition in the educational technology field, but having said that, I would like at the same time to tell Mr. Fowkes that I think that his own statements here are right on target at least so far as the Chair is concerned. They indicate that you and your industry have indeed been directing yourselves to the questions of how your technologies can help improve education because that concern must get you into relationships with the users and must get you into questions of evalua

tion.

Put yourself, gentlemen, in the situation of a local school board or a school superintendent and suppose that each of you sent one of your brochures, each of you telling him that your system is best. That is a very serious problem in a real world sense, and I simply invite you in your own interest to give concern to it. What I am trying to get across here is that you should lift your sights solely above saying, "Gee, there is a big market out there. There are thousands of schools in the United States. If we could only sell them more of our equipment, it would be good business."

That is a legitimate concern, but speaking for myself, if I am going to vote Federal tax dollars for more technology, I want to be convinced that it actually has some relationship of a valid kind to improving education. Otherwise, I am not being responsible. I don't offer that as a sermon, but only a concern.

Mr. Hofberg, you have an observation?

Mr. HOFBERG. Yes, I would like to say that for at least 15 years our company has been deeply involved in educational software, not only in visual terms for 5 years, but in terms of audio certainly for the last 15 years.

As a matter of fact, our company has been in the forefront in cultural investments-and, if it is a truism that highly industrialized society has a brutalizing effect upon children, which also stultifies their imaginative faculties, then our commitment through software in the field of the humanities and sciences as well as audio/visual technology which can open the classroom to the home, has been an investment well spent. After all, it is we, as a company that have produced an unparalleled series of recordings which pedagogic intent from a spectrum of 500 years of English poetry under the auspices of Oxford University-one of the most monumental undertakings in the field of spoken word-at a great cost to ourselves; and the complete Shakespeare was also produced with the Syndics of Cam

bridge University; we produced a film on Chaucer in conjunction with 20 museums and learned societies, and so forth. This generally indicates that we, as manufacturers, have discharged in part our social obligations. Our magic catalogs are "nonparelleled” in quality and scope.

The problem confronting us is whether direct curricular requirement for such software exists. As far as we could see, extensive audio/ visual technology does not exist in schools today, and that which does exist is only of a supplementary and peripheral element. In the first place, when you look at the schools' allocation of time, for instance, in the elementary grades, for audio/visual-which in most cases are film strips-they are used merely as supplements and generally are squeezed in to fill various additional time periods that might be found. Secondly, the schoolteacher generally does not have any special training in the use of such materials or technologies and, thirdly, it is all well and good to speak of educational software, but I think, before speaking of such software, one should have educational criteria; namely, what type of human being is our society interested in having graduate from our schools, what are our values, what are our judgments in regard to this and, above all, we must have minimum standards or educational requirements before one might seriously speak of audio/visual technologies in the schools.

We, as a company, have moved in the direction of both software and technology, at a very great expense, and have experienced continuous and serious resistance in the schools to the use of any supplementary support or even directly related audio/visual materials. As to the question of underprivileged children who, as you know, are almost hopelessly lost by the age of 3; unless a social program of salvaging such children exists coupled with the technology to be used in addition to the classroom, in the home, then, certainly we would be prepared to address ourselves further to this matter in the broadest possible terms.

Mr. BRADEMAS. Mr. Porter.

Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, I don't think you have any problem with the producers of the hardware or the producers of the duplication method. We will respond, we will provide the delivery system. We thoroughly agree that the problem is in two areas: One, it is in creation of appropriate program material; and, secondly, both inspiration and instruction for the educational elements of our society in utilization of that material.

I would offer the opinion that from an area of enlightened selfinterest. we are delighted to see the area expand. To be optimistic, I think we would have to see a somewhat different condition from what I see. I agree with the previous speaker. It is a conservative element of our society. They don't take quickly to new things. Some leadership is indicated.

We are delighted to see leadership being taken here. If objectives are set on a national scale with an ambitious program and if those objectives are concise, I think we can see the material coming forward. I think there is room for a lot of experimentation and you will have to give them some leeway, I am sure.

Mr. BRADEMAS. I am almost constrained, but only time causes me not to do so, to say something about our setting concise national objectives in this area. That raises a whole new host of probelms.

Mr. Fowkes.

Mr. FoWKES. Do you have a question?

Mr. BRADEMAS. No, do you have any comment?

Mr. FOWKES. We just comment as in the statement we made, because I guess like many companies here, we are stumbling around and we found you don't go to the marketplace with a piece of hardware and that this is the only machine. We have taken a whole new approach in the last couple of years and are trying to analyze the objective of what they are trying to do.

say

We don't think that any piece of hardware is the best hardware for a specific situation.

Mr. BRADEMAS. I might say before yielding to Mr. Hansen that I don't mean to sound critical of you who are representatives of this industry. At least I don't mean to sound totally critical for not having all of you occupy yourselves with the questions of the aims of education and the processes of education and evaluating what is effective and all of the rest, because a lot of the educators in the United States have not got around to that either. So you should not feel set upon.

Mr. Hansen.

Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have a brief question that I will direct to Mr. Fowkes because obviously you have been in the business for a long time and have wrestled with many of the problems that you described in your testimony. Reference was made, I think, by Mr. Harris to the recording of educational materials by the teachers or in the school and this is obviously one of the directions in which we may be moving. Where do you see the trend as between using present recorded materials that are made available generally and the recording of educational materials in the particular school or by a particular teacher for use in that school?

Mr. FowKES. I don't have any statistics today to address myself to that question. We have in the type of systems that we sell or where we do an analysis for a school, I guess I would have to say without statistical support that you don't see the teacher doing recording in a room, we don't have that happening too much right now.

We have machines that will allow them to do it and that is not a feature that is predominantly used. We see more of the programing technique at a school district level and industry certainly has been doing it for a long time.

I would say the preponderance of teachers are making a request to the software producers that this is what we need or software personnel analyzing that and making a prerecorded package. I don't know what the ratio is, but it is probably very high on that end of the spectrum.

Mr. HANSEN. Thank you.

Mr. BRADEMAS. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Next we will ask to come forward Mr. Coté, Mr. Yavitz, and Mr. Fried, and I think given also our concern about time we might ask Mr. Obata if he would come along as well and then we will listen to all four of you gentlemen.

Could we begin please with Mr. Coté?

A PANEL CONSISTING OF ED COTÉ, DIRECTOR OF SALES, CONCORD COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS; ERIC YAVITZ, DIRECTOR OF SALES DEVELOPMENT, MOTION PICTURE AND EDUCATION MARKETS, EASTMAN KODAK CO.; RON FRIED, VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING, INTERNATIONAL VIDEO CORP.; AND ANDRE A. BLAY, PRESIDENT, MAGNETIC VIDEO CORP.

(Mr. Coté's statement follows:)

STATEMENT OF EDWARD COTÉ, DIRECTOR OF SALES FOR CONCORD COMMUNICATIONS

SYSTEMS

INTRODUCTION

My name is Edward Coté. I am Director of Sales for Concord Communications Systems, an American marketing organization that markets closed circuit television equipment manufactured in the U.S. and Japan under the Concord label. Concord is a division of Benjamin Electronic Sound Corp. and Instrument Systems Corp.

Our headquarters is located in Farmingdale, New York and we maintain and support 40 regional offices in principal cities throughout the United States, each providing administration, sales and service to local Concord customers.

I am here today to present a position statement for Concord on the question of standardization. As stated earlier, Concord is a marketing organization. By that, I mean an entrepreneur that tries to:

(1) Anticipate the wants and needs of its customers with regard to product design, price, function and reliability.

(2) Maintain a level of continued satisfaction with Concord products through provision for installation, service, maintenance and training.

(3) Endeavor to design new products that meet the requirements of its customers to expand and improve their system capabilities.

In the pursuit of these objectives, Concord must also achieve a fourth: a reasonable profit that justifies the entire effort.

This is not news, but it emphasizes the fact that Concord believes in the free enterprise system which also includes the concept of competition.

We have a number of competitors in the field and they are well represented at this hearing. Through their efforts and ours over the years, the products now available on the open market represent a state-of-the-art that we are constantly seeking to improve.

This is a major point that is often overlooked. When the industry is criticized for the myriad designs and methodologies that seem to creat confusion in the eye of the potential user, what is generally forgotten is the family resemblance of these products. This resemblance is really much more significant than the differences between them. From the user's viewpoint, the end result is what matters: a picture on a television screen.

The remarkable fact of our industry is that we have so much to offer user groups. This industry is so richly imaginative and productive that in its zeal to anticipate end-user wants, it has generated an astonishing range of optional methods for achieving a hitherto unprecedented level of commercial, social, and personal communication.

This is also a fledgling industry with the promise of giant stature and usefulness if it is allowed to develop and evolve at its own rate, which is already at breakneck speed. The surprising fact we have noted is that this evolution has not produced a disproportionate number of obsolete, useless variations. We point to many individual applications which produce videotape programs not intended for playback on someone else's machine. In applications such as this, standardization has no relevance. Neither does the world obsolete. The individual, or group, producing such a videotape for playback on their own machine has not waited for the "ideal" system. They are too busy using this versatile medium to achieve the results they desire, which is a picture on a television

screen.

Procrastination in obtaining and using a system in the hope of finding an "ideal" system is self defeating. If there is a basic advantage to producing a videotape, then standardization is unimportant.

Concord has a viewpoint on video cassettes, video cartridges, and reel-to-reel systems because we market all three. We'd like to place these in a perspective that may help to relate them, and to show their similarities.

Videocassettes offer a basic convenience to the user. He simply pops a cassette into the machine and achieves a display immediately with minimum effort. On the other hand, the reel-to-reel system offers the user maximum control of program production, with editing, special effects, and switching.

Between these two extremes lies the video cartridges, offering both convenience and control, because the cartridge contains a reel that is usable on a reelto-reel videotape recorder.

None of these is the panacea for all video recording applications, nor was it so intended. Programming of the end result is one of the commonalities of these systems and conversion of programming from one system to any other is essentially a simple mechanical function. This is precisely the area where attention is being concentrated among end users. For them, hardware is merely a means to an end, a means of realizing their ideas in a picture on a television

screen.

Concord is committed to providing communications capability because that is what the user wants. And because if he doesn't get it, we won't be in business very long. However, the means of providing this communications capability are still in an early shake-out stage. The most acceptable means may be just around the corner on an obscure drawing board. It may never get off that drawing board if a premature freezing of methodology occurs. Every company represented here today is taking a calculated risk that the path it has chosen will be the one ultimately accepted by the end user. Some of us may not be here when the dust finally settles, but we have the courage to see it through. It is satisfying and exciting to be in the vanguard of a vibrant new industry that is remaking our entire culture. There is also the promise of extremely high returns on our investment.

The fact is, we are here and we are committed. Like any newborn infant, the video industry needs proper nourishment and room to grow before it reaches its mature productive age. Let's give it that chance.

Thank you.

Mr. Coré. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I will do my best to summarize where I can.

My name is Ed Coté and I am director of Concord Communications Systems, an American marketing organization that markets closed-circuit television equipment manufactured in both the United States and Japan under the Concord label. Concord has a great number of competitors in the field of video hardware and they are well represented here today at this hearing. Through their efforts and ours over the years the products now available on the open market represent a state of the art that we are constantly seeking to improve. This is a major point that is often overlooked when the industry is criticized for the myriad of designs and methodologies that seem to create confusion in the eye of the potential user.

What is generally forgotten is the family resemblance of these products. This resemblance is really more significant, I think, than the differences between these products. From the users' viewpoint the end result is what matters: a picture on a television screen.

The remarkable fact of our industry is that we have so much to offer user groups. This industry is so richly imaginative and productive that in its zeal to anticipate end-user wants it has generated an astonishing range of optional methods of achieving social and personal communications.

This is also a fledging industry with the promise of giant stature and usefulness if it is allowed to develop and evolve at its own rate, which is already at breakneck speed. The surprising fact that we have noted is that the industry's evolution has not produced a disproportionate number of obsolete useless variations.

« PreviousContinue »