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AlphaWindows was a proposed industry standard from the Display Industry Association (an industry consortium in California) in the early 1990s that would allow a single CRT screen to implement multiple windows, each of which was to behave as a distinct computer terminal.[1][2] Individual vendors offered products based on this in 1992 through the end of the 1990s.[3][4][5] and after,[6]

These products were targeted at a low-end market: "for users that don't need the processing power of a personal computer or the complexity of an X Window terminal, the AlphaWindow terminals and software provides the same look and feel of windows-based graphical user interfaces on an Alphanumeric terminal".[6]

The initial concept relied on custom (but low-cost) terminals which would support mouse interaction, (text) windowing support, and colored text.[3] With that, plus special host software, the vendors proposed to support semi-graphical applications "transparently".


The Display Industry Association was at the same location as Cumulus Technology (the same street address in Palo Alto, CA).[1][7] Cumulus was a manufacturer of displays since 1986.[8][9] Cumulus was heavily involved with development of the AlphaWindows standard. The members of the association in 1993 were:[1]

Terminal vendors
Software vendors
  • Cumulus
  • JSB
  • Nutec
  • SSSI

Only Cumulus was proposing both to develop the terminals and the host software. However, Cumulus did not survive: it went bankrupt.[9][10][11]


JSB Software Technologies produced MultiView Mascot. As noted in Unix Review:[12]

MultiView Mascot helps users access graphical applications, such as Web sites and e-mail systems, from a character-based browser. It does so by mapping graphical applications to a multiwindowed character system. Although there is the inevitable loss of graphics and formatting, the result is surprisingly workable. A hot-key feature allows any old character terminal to offer switching between multiple applications at the same time, with no programming required.

As of 2007, the product is owned by FutureSoft.[13][14]

SSSI (Structured Software Solutions, Inc.) produced the FacetTerm session multiplexer.[15]


  1. ^ a b c Richard Shuford, ed. ""Alphawindows" -- a windowing setup for character-cell video terminals". 
  2. ^ Information Technology Standards Guidance — User Interface Services. 3 of 14. U. S. Department of Defense. April 7, 1997. 
  3. ^ a b "First AlphaWindows Character-Based Terminals Set For To Appear in May, At From $600...". 1992-02-14. 
  4. ^ New Products (July–August 1992). "Cumulus Technology Announces Support for New AlphaWindow Standard". Sys Admin Magazine. 
  5. ^ a b "Microvitec First Past Post in Europe with AlphaWindows Terminals; IBM OEM Pact in Prospect...". 1992-08-12. 
  6. ^ Brad Myers (March 1995). "User Interface Software Tools". 
  7. ^ "Cumulus Technology Wins Contract from Unisys". 1988-01-18. 
  8. ^ a b "Company Summary — Cumulus Technology Ltd.". March 1994. 
  9. ^ David Kallman (1997-05-21). "Did Cumulus drop off the face of the earth, again?? (HP3000-L mailing list comment)". 
  10. ^ Henry Keultjes (2005-05-04). "Small Box 'To End Digital Divide' (InterLUG mailing list comment)". 
  11. ^ Tim Parker (March 1999). "MultiView v. 4 — Breathing new life into old character-based UNIX applications is easier with MultiView.". Unix Review. 
  12. ^ "JSB reports record revenues increase". E-consultancy. 2000-07-05. 
  13. ^ "SurfControl sells off MultiView". E-consultancy. 2001-02-19. 
  14. ^ "Structured Software Solutions, Inc. Again Named to Fast Tech 50". FacetCorp. May 1996. 

See also[edit]