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 90s.[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.

Canadian businessman and investor Kevin O'Leary started Softkey International 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], Brøderbund 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 Cad Complete for Windows [22]
  • KeyChart[23]
  • Key Clipart series[24]
  • Key Database Plus
  • Key Fonts[25]
  • KeyMailer
  • 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
  • WarWind 2: Human Onslaught
  • Labels Unlimited for Windows[47]

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" – via Open WorldCat. 
  9. ^ "Air power: the U.S. Air Force in action." 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  10. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). "The American Heritage talking dictionary". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  11. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). "ArtRageous!: the amazing world of art". Softkey International – via Open WorldCat. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Trim, Mary (1 January 2004). "Growing and Knowing: A Selection Guide for Children's Literature". Walter de Gruyter – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ "Astrorock: CD-ROM". Softkey. 17 July 1997 – via Open WorldCat. 
  14. ^ SoftKey International Inc; World Library, Inc (17 July 1999). "The Bible: a multimedia experience". Learning Co. – via Open WorldCat. 
  15. ^ "BodyWorks 5.0: the complete multimedia guide to human anatomy". 17 July 1993 – via Open WorldCat. 
  16. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). "DinoPark tycoon". SoftKey International Inc. – via Open WorldCat. 
  17. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1997). "Dr. Schueler's home medical advisor pro". Softkey – via Open WorldCat. 
  18. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1999). "Explorers of the New World". SoftKey Multimedia – via Open WorldCat. 
  19. ^ "The Hubble Space Telescope". SoftKey Multimedia. 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  20. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). "Infopedia 2.0". SoftKey Multimedia Inc. – via Open WorldCat. 
  21. ^ "Jetstrike: the ultimate surprise attack". SoftKey ; [Eksp. Indbindingscentralen. 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  22. ^ Hard Copy of program's Instruction Manual
  23. ^ "Keychart". 17 July 1987 – via Open WorldCat. 
  24. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). "KEY mega ClipArt 15,000". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  25. ^ "Key fonts pro: CD-ROM for Windows & Mac". 17 July 1994 – via Open WorldCat. 
  26. ^ Softkey Multimedia (17 July 1993). "The Koshan conspiracy". Softkey – via Open WorldCat. 
  27. ^ SoftKey International (17 July 1995). "Lamborghini: American challenge". SoftKey Multimedia – via Open WorldCat. 
  28. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). "Leonardo, the inventor: take a look inside the greatest mind the world has ever known". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  29. ^ Fischer, Lynn; SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). "Lynn Fischer's healthy indulgences". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  30. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). "Me and my world: [multimedia picture dictionary". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  31. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1994). "MPC wizard: test & tune your manual multimedia PC". SoftKey International – via Open WorldCat. 
  32. ^ SoftKey International Inc (17 July 1995). "Multipedia: the reference library that starts where your encyclopedia leaves off". SoftKey Multimedia – via Open WorldCat. 
  33. ^ "The Muppet calendar". Softkey. 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  34. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). "The Oregon Trail". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  35. ^ Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation; SoftKey Multimedia Inc; Learning Company (17 July 1997). "Oregon Trail II". Learning Co. – via Open WorldCat. 
  36. ^ "The Otter's adventure". SoftKey International. 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  37. ^ a b Optical Data Corporation; SoftKey Data Corporation (17 July 1995). "Pocket & Tails go exploring". SoftKey ; Optical Data Corp. – via Open WorldCat. 
  38. ^ "Pocket & Tails go to town". 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  39. ^ "Pro landscaper 3-D". 17 July 1997 – via Open WorldCat. 
  40. ^ "Shadows of Cairn". 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  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 – via Open WorldCat. 
  42. ^ "Silent service II". SoftKey ; [Eksp. Indbindingscentralen. 17 July 1995 – via Open WorldCat. 
  43. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1995). "SoftKey weekend". SoftKey Multimedia – via Open WorldCat. 
  44. ^ RXL Pulitzer; SoftKey (17 July 1996). "Spanish to go!". SoftKey – via Open WorldCat. 
  45. ^ "Sports illustrated swimsuit calendar". SoftKey International. 17 July 1994 – via Open WorldCat. 
  46. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1996). "Troggle trouble math". SoftKey Multimedia – via Open WorldCat. 
  47. ^ SoftKey Multimedia Inc (17 July 1997). "Labels unlimited: your total professional labeling system". Softkey Multimedia Inc. – via Open WorldCat. 

External links[edit]