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TBTF for 1995-08-25: Eolas claims basic patent on Web applets

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Fri, 25 Aug 1995 00:30:14 -0400

[Big news broke this week: an unknown company (to me at least), Eolas,
asserted a basic patent on key Web technologies: any use of "applets" in
Web browsers and any technology that implements dynamic, bi-directional
communication over the Web. Eolas negotiated exclusive rights to the
pending patent with the University of California.

[Most directly affected will be Sun Microsystems with its Hot Java tech-
nology, which Netscape has also announced an agreement to license. Other
browsers with features possibly covered by the patents are Spyglass, Micro-
soft (which licensed Spyglass technology for its MSN navigator), AOL/
Navisoft, and NeXT. Apple's Cyberdog technology, built on OpenDoc, will
almost certainly be covered. VRML is an open question. Netscape's "server
push" and "client pull" animation techniques are likely candidates.

[Eolas has been in discussion with "several of these companies" for a few
months now regarding licensing arrangements.

[The patented technology was developed by Eolas's founder and CTO, Dr.
Michael Doyle, now a professor at UCSF.

[Eolas stands for "Embedded Objects Linked Across Systems"; it is also the
Gaelic word for "knowledge."

[For further information and demonstrations see <http://www.eolas.com/>.]

[Here is an insightful (and history-aware) Web designer predicting the
imminent demise of translators from everything to HTML. Transforming text
among various possible markup schemes has been and will continue to be a
labor-consuming issue, and the Holy Grail of an x-to-y translator will
never be realized. But pretty much everyone agrees that HTML is the one
essential destination of publishing packages. So we have, at first, N
x-to-HTML translation packages; and ultimately HTML goes native and is
never edited by hand again. We all generate content for the Web in a
WYSIWYG mode.]

>>From Web Design mailing list (1995-08-24):

I think what will happen is that rather shortly we will start to see the
popular packages come out with native HTML output that will go online
directly, and the nature of Web publishing will change sharply. HTML
hacks will become less common.

In a similar analogy, the "text processing" languages of 10 and 15 years
ago used dot commands or similar for formatting; nroff is not dead, but
nobody hacks the formatting language of a modern word processor.

Michael Brennen <mbrennen at fni dot com>; FishNet, Inc. <http://www.fni.com/>


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Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com dawson@atria.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.