McGraw-Hill Information Dissemination System
As an adjunct to its hard copy publishing business, McGraw-Hill decided to enter the electronic publishing business by offering a service for the economic distribution of important documents and information in real time. The Internet had not yet been opened to commercial use, and the facilities for immediate distribution of large documents to a group of people did not exist. McGraw-Hill felt that it should be able to improve its delivery time and costs over its current methods of using the U.S. mail or fax.
McGraw-Hill developed the technology required to transmit high speed data streams over the unused vestigial sideband of FM radio signals and successfully persuaded FM broadcasters in several large cities to rent them their frequency spectrum in the unused vestigial sideband of their FM signals. They already had a large Digital-based system for entering and editing the documents that they mailed to their current customers and needed a message processing system to provide the interface between this editing system and the commercial radio station operators.
The Sombers Group was asked to build the message processing system and to implement it so that it would be completely fault tolerant. A system from Stratus was chosen for this purpose. The resultant system scheduled the transmission of documents on a priority basis according to predetermined schedules, formatted these documents for transmission over the FM radio signals, delivered them to the radio stations, and provided a wide range of accounting for this service.
McGraw-Hill manufactured a special receiver for its customers that separated the documents from the broadcast stream, filtered out the documents to which the customer had subscribed, and delivered those to the customerís PC. The first successful use of this system was to deliver quote solicitations and award notifications to large contractors.