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Infonautics' Homework Helper now available on Prodigy; Starting Feb. 15, children can launch complex online research by asking questions in plain English.

WAYNE, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 14, 1995--Starting today, children will be able to use Infonautics' Homework Helper to perform sophisticated online research simply by asking a question in plain English.

Prodigy is the first online service to offer the Homework Helper, a complete family reference library that makes online research easy and fun. As part of a launch promotion to encourage its subscribers to try the new service, Prodigy is offering two free hours on the Homework Helper.

Using the Homework Helper, students can pose a question in everyday language and launch a comprehensive search through millions of pages of content in dozens of databases, retrieving text and images from such leading sources as Simon & Schuster, Gannett, Reuters, World Almanac, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Economist, Journal Graphics and Compton's NewMedia. Sources include full text encyclopedias, international news wires, more than 150 full text newspapers, more than 400 magazines, and guidebooks, maps, photo libraries, textbooks, basic reference works and major works of literature.

Within seconds of asking a question, the Homework Helper searches all databases simultaneously and provides a list of pertinent articles and images ranked in order of relevance. For example, a search for "Who said 'Et tu Brute'?" will yield citations to an encyclopedia article about Julius Caesar, the full text of Shakespeare's play and common references and allusions from newspapers, magazines and other sources.

If children are intrigued by something they read in a Homework Helper article, they can highlight the word or phrase and click on "new search" to delve deeper into the topic or to send the Homework Helper off in a new direction. And if students stumble upon an unfamiliar word, they can highlight the word and click on the dictionary or thesaurus icons to get a definition.

Unlike most online research services, the Homework Helper has built-in intelligence. If a child asks it "What is the smartest animal?" the Homework Helper knows to look for articles on "clever creatures" and "intelligent beasts" as well. There is no need to worry about the complexities of Boolean logic or arcane database access languages -- a real advantage compared to other database information services.

With the Homework Helper, students can narrow the database search to specified dates, authors, subjects or publications. Students also can ask the Homework Helper to retrieve only materials appropriate to their age or reading level.

Lloyd Morrisett, chairman of Children's Television Workshop and president of the Markle Foundation, believes the Homework Helper will transform how education occurs in the home. "The Homework Helper builds curiosity and a true sense of information exploration," he said. "This research and information tool is fun and could empower students to become academic achievers." Infonautics President Marvin Weinberger says he wants children to enjoy exploring the Homework Helper's vast libraries of information. "We hope the Homework Helper will turn even the most jaded student into a passionate Infonaut."

The Homework Helper works on any Windows compatible computer. Initially available on the Prodigy online service, monthly subscriptions to the Homework Helper cost $9.95 for two hours of usage. Additional hours are available at Prodigy's "plus" rate of $2.95 an hour. (For subscription information, call 1-800/PRODIGY.) As part of a launch promotion, Prodigy is offering its subscribers two free hours of Homework Helper.

Infonautics Corp. was founded in November 1992 to create a new class of accessible and affordable electronic information services. The Homework Helper is its first product. As part of its mission, Infonautics is committed to facilitating universal access to information by pioneering new business models, developing breakthrough technology and exploring new ways to deliver a vast wealth of content. The company is based in Wayne.

CONTACT: Edelman Public Relations, Mountain View, Calif.

David Harrah or Marivi Lerdo, 415/968-4033
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Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 14, 1995
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