Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 73 / JUNE 1986 / PAGE 68

Hippo Computer
Almanac For
Atari ST

George Miller
Assistant Technical Editor

Requirements: Atari ST computer with at least one disk drive. Printer optional.

Do you know how many ounces are in a liter? Quick, what time is it in Moscow? What's the zip code for Denver? Who won the Super Bowl in 1974?
    No, we're not playing another version of Trivial Pursuit. These are questions you can answer in seconds with the Hippo Computer Almanac for the Atari ST, a valuable information resource that points the way toward a new generation of intelligent software.
    The higher processing speeds and greater disk capacities available with the new generation of personal computers are making possible more powerful and sophisticated programs. For example, much larger databases are becoming available for use in the home. Although the Hippo Computer Almanac is not yet in the class of an encyclopedia on a CD-ROM, it is loaded with information. Over 35,000 pieces of information, in fact, according to Hippo.

It Understands English
Like any good almanac, this electronic repository contains information on such general topics as history, geography, sports, languages, science, awards, and units of measure.
    Perhaps the best feature of all is that you communicate with the program by typing plain English sentences. A parser routine swiftly evaluates your query, and the program usually retrieves the information in less than ten seconds. If the almanac doesn't know the answer to a question, there's no cryptic comment or error message. The screen simply displays, "I don't know."
    Of course, even with a first-rate parser, there are always going to be occasions when the program won't follow your questions. However, the Almanac does have the ability to find the closest match to any request, and it tries to satisfy any query.
    If, after several attempts, you still can't make the program understand your question, just type HELP. Online help is always available in all categories. The help screens are easy to understand and even offer sample questions illustrating the format for communicating with the program. As your familiarity with the Almanac increases, you'll learn how to communicate in the least number of words. For instance, "Time London" yields the time of day in London, England, eliminating the need to type "What time is it in London, England?"

A Personalized Almanac
You can also customize your version of the Almanac. For instance, it's easy to set up the database so the program knows where you are geographically. This makes it possible for the Almanac to calculate time zone differences and mileages between your home town and distant lands. You can also use the "remember" command to store important personal information in the Almanac, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and phone numbers.
    The Almanac is easy to use without extensive instructions. In fact, a single information sheet is provided instead of a manual. There is also an easy-to-use print option that lets you make hardcopies of anything you call up.
    Browsing through the Hippo Computer Almanac is fun. It's an engaging program that entertains at the same time that it offers a useful database of information.

Hippo Computer Almanac
Hippopotamus Software, Inc.
985 University Avenue, Suite 12
Los Gatos, CA 95030