SoftKey

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SoftKey International was a publisher and distributor of CD-ROM based personal computer software for Windows and Macintosh computers during the late 1980s and 1990s.[1] Their products typically consisted of software intended for home audiences, especially shovelware discs containing various freeware or shareware game software. SoftKey enjoyed great success by offering "jewel-case only" products, which they dubbed their 'Platinum' line.[citation needed]

Canadian businessman and investor Kevin O'Leary started Softkey International in 1986 in his basement on a $10,000 investment from his mother.[2] By 1994, Softkey was a billion-dollar consolidator in the educational software market, acquiring no fewer than sixty rivals, such as WordStar[3], Broderbund and Spinnaker Software[4]. It then moved to Boston and took the name of one of its acquisitions, The Learning Company (TLC).[5]

In 1995, SoftKey introduced a number of new children's educational software titles, branded under the KeyKids line.[6]

Acquisition[edit]

Mattel bought in with great enthusiasm at the top of the market in 1999 at US$3.65B, but ultimately found itself losing money with 467 software titles.[7] This acquisition was intended to broaden Mattel's product line and help Mattel sell more products that appeal to boys, but TLC began reporting unexpected losses before the deal was even completed. The deal was supposed to immediately add $50 million annually to Mattel's bottom line. The company instead lost $82.4 million in that fiscal year because of a number of problems with the acquisition, including a loss of a key distribution deal and a high return of unsold products from retailers. In October, Mattel announced that its earnings would fall well below expectations, prompting the departure one month later of TLC's O'Leary and another founder. Mattel ultimately sold the company to The Gores Group, LLC, (GTG) for a share of future profits. GTG said of TLC's business structure, "[it] was a textbook example of a business built mostly by cobbled-together acquisitions, which were then purchased by a larger company with little idea of how to make the pieces fit together." Said James Bailey, President of GTG, "there were seven separate Internet initiatives, all run by different people. Some of these people had never met each other, even though they worked in the same building." In 2001, Gores sold The Learning Company's entertainment holdings to Ubisoft, and most of the other holdings to Irish company Riverdeep.[citation needed]

Partial list of software titles[edit]

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [8]
  • Air Power: The US Air Force in Action [9]
  • The American Heritage Talking Dictionary [10]
  • Angst: Rahz's Revenge
  • ArtRageous: The Amazing World of Art [11]
  • Arthur's Reading Race [12]
  • Astrorock [13]
  • The Bible: A Multimedia Experience[14]
  • BodyWorks 5.0 : the complete multimedia guide to human anatomy[15]
  • Comanche CD (Budget CD-Rom Release)
  • Design It! 3-D
  • DinoPark Tycoon[16]
  • Dr. Health'nstein's Body Fun
  • Dr. Schueler's Home Medical Advisor Pro[17]
  • Dr Seuss's ABC [12]
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Explorers of the New World[18]
  • Falcon AT
  • Flight of the Intruder
  • Green Eggs And Ham [12]
  • The Hubble Space Telescope[19]
  • Infopedia[20]
  • JetStrike[21]
  • Just Grandma And Me [12]
  • Key Accounting (aka Painless Accounting)
  • Key Cad Complete for Windows [22]
  • KeyChart[23]
  • Key Clipart series[24]
  • Key Database Plus
  • Key Fonts[25]
  • KeyMailer
  • KeyPublisher by Softkey Software Products Inc. (1991)
  • Koshan Conspiracy[26]
  • Lamborghini: American Challenge[27]
  • Leonardo, the inventor : take a look inside the greatest mind the world has ever known.[28]
  • Lynn Fischer's Healthy Indulgences[29]
  • Me and my world:(multimedia picture dictionary).[30]
  • Megafortress & Patriot
  • MPC Wizard[31]
  • Multipedia[32]
  • The Muppet Calendar[33]
  • The Oregon Trail: Classic Edition for DOS[34]
  • Oregon Trail II[35]
  • The Otter's Adventure[36]
  • Pocket and Tails Go Exploring[37]
  • PC PaintBrush Clipart Collection For Windows (ISBN 1-56434-687-0)[37]
  • Pocket and Tails Go to Town[38]
  • Pro Landscaper 3-D[39]
  • Shadows of Cairn[40]
  • Shelley Duvall's Tales of Digby the Dog[41]
  • Silent Service 2[42]
  • SoftKey Weekend[43]
  • Solitaire Antics
  • Spanish to Go![44]
  • Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar[45]
  • Tom Kite Golf
  • Troggle Trouble Math[46]
  • The Three Little Pigs [12]
  • WriteNow
  • Wordstar for Windows Version 2[47]
  • WarWind 2: Human Onslaught
  • Labels Unlimited for Windows[48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Leary, Kevin (2011). Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-67174-3.
  2. ^ "'Shark Tank' investor Kevin O'Leary explains how a $10,000 loan from his mother helped him build a $4 billion company". businessinsider.com. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  3. ^ Petrie, Michael. "WordStar History". www.wordstar.org. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  4. ^ "SOFTKEY TO ACQUIRE WORDSTAR AND SPINNAKER". www.telecompaper.com.
  5. ^ PITTA, JULIE (8 December 1995). "Learning Co. to Be Bought by SoftKey for $606 Million : Computers: Friendly suitor Broderbund is outbid. Deal would make SoftKey largest educational software company" – via LA Times.
  6. ^ "Softkey heats up summer with 50 new titles; Releases include all new kids line and additions to KEY and platinum lines." Business Wire article, July 20, 1995
  7. ^ "Kevin O'Leary: He's not a billionaire, he just plays one on TV". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. September 28, 2012.
  8. ^ VERNE, Jules (17 July 1995). 20,000 leagues under the sea. [CD-ROM. OCLC 655891547.
  9. ^ Air power: the U.S. Air Force in action. 17 July 1995. OCLC 39734008.
  10. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). The American Heritage talking dictionary. SoftKey. OCLC 38959902.
  11. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). ArtRageous!: the amazing world of art. Softkey International. OCLC 222224231.
  12. ^ a b c d e Trim, Mary (1 January 2004). Growing and Knowing: A Selection Guide for Children's Literature. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 9783598440076 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Astrorock: CD-ROM. Softkey. 17 July 1997. OCLC 786165091.
  14. ^ SoftKey International Inc; World Library, Inc (17 July 1999). The Bible: a multimedia experience. Learning Co. OCLC 43689223.
  15. ^ BodyWorks 5.0: the complete multimedia guide to human anatomy. 17 July 1993. OCLC 34314842.
  16. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). DinoPark tycoon. SoftKey International Inc. OCLC 35845074.
  17. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1997). Dr. Schueler's home medical advisor pro. Softkey. OCLC 319894925.
  18. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1999). Explorers of the New World. SoftKey Multimedia. OCLC 45795055.
  19. ^ The Hubble Space Telescope. SoftKey Multimedia. 17 July 1995. OCLC 33346900.
  20. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). Infopedia 2.0. SoftKey Multimedia Inc. OCLC 695597879.
  21. ^ Jetstrike: the ultimate surprise attack. SoftKey ; [Eksp. Indbindingscentralen. 17 July 1995. OCLC 472732146.
  22. ^ Hard Copy of program's Instruction Manual
  23. ^ Keychart. 17 July 1987. OCLC 22456636.
  24. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). KEY mega ClipArt 15,000. SoftKey. OCLC 42915334.
  25. ^ Key fonts pro: CD-ROM for Windows & Mac. 17 July 1994. OCLC 34159677.
  26. ^ Softkey Multimedia (17 July 1993). The Koshan conspiracy. Softkey. OCLC 222149768.
  27. ^ SoftKey International (17 July 1995). Lamborghini: American challenge. SoftKey Multimedia. OCLC 38859412.
  28. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). Leonardo, the inventor: take a look inside the greatest mind the world has ever known. SoftKey. OCLC 35148711.
  29. ^ Fischer, Lynn; SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). Lynn Fischer's healthy indulgences. SoftKey. OCLC 33482694.
  30. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). Me and my world: [multimedia picture dictionary. SoftKey. OCLC 38426305.
  31. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1994). MPC wizard: test & tune your manual multimedia PC. SoftKey International. OCLC 32301269.
  32. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). Multipedia: the reference library that starts where your encyclopedia leaves off. SoftKey Multimedia. OCLC 37016199.
  33. ^ The Muppet calendar. Softkey. 17 July 1995. OCLC 49297435.
  34. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). The Oregon Trail. SoftKey. OCLC 35923659.
  35. ^ Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation; SoftKey Multimedia Inc; Learning Company (17 July 1997). Oregon Trail II. Learning Co. OCLC 47630963.
  36. ^ The Otter's adventure. SoftKey International. 17 July 1995. OCLC 224956581.
  37. ^ a b Optical Data Corporation; SoftKey Data Corporation (17 July 1995). Pocket & Tails go exploring. SoftKey ; Optical Data Corp. OCLC 36661217.
  38. ^ Pocket & Tails go to town. 17 July 1995. OCLC 965562713.
  39. ^ Pro landscaper 3-D. 17 July 1997. OCLC 222595034.
  40. ^ Shadows of Cairn. 17 July 1995. OCLC 37488752.
  41. ^ Duvall, Shelley; Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corporation; SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1994). Shelley Duvall's Tales of Digby the dog. Sanctuary Woods Multimedia : SoftKey International. OCLC 35120535.
  42. ^ Silent service II. SoftKey ; [Eksp. Indbindingscentralen. 17 July 1995. OCLC 471332913.
  43. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). SoftKey weekend. SoftKey Multimedia. OCLC 33986770.
  44. ^ RXL Pulitzer; SoftKey (17 July 1996). Spanish to go!. SoftKey. OCLC 39009997.
  45. ^ Sports illustrated swimsuit calendar. SoftKey International. 17 July 1994. OCLC 47940006.
  46. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). Troggle trouble math. SoftKey Multimedia. OCLC 422695128.
  47. ^ Box, User Manual and license key. No diskette or CD.
  48. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1997). Labels unlimited: your total professional labeling system. Softkey Multimedia Inc. OCLC 39706385.

External links[edit]