Reprinted from NEWMEDIA CANADA 12(5) 1997
ISSN 1201-1916 April 14/97 c1997 Pelican Island Information
Editor: Paul Nicholls


Voyager, Irvington, NY, 800/446-2001;; WIN/MAC. $29.95. Rating: ***

In 1980, Jon Else presented to the world the story of the creation of the first nuclear bomb and the man who oversaw its development in Los Alamos through his Peabody award- winning documentary film The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb. The archival footage, fascinating interviews and intriguing history are retold in this CD-ROM version that uses its own Quicktime software and features a search engine, glossary, annotations, a running commentary, supplements (such as classified memos), a photo gallery and biographies of all of the major individuals shown in the film.

The disc is simple to install (on PC or Mac platforms) and easy to use. The help function allows the user to select the help bar and simply point the cursor-arrow to the icon/command that the user needs help with. There is little documentation, though. The layout on the screen is clear and uncluttered, although the captions for the icons on the right of the screen (which are dark brown after use) blend too easily into the dark black background. The "find" function allows one to search for a word in the film, commentary, supplements and biography section (in that order). However, the words do not become highlighted in the text. It is possible to have the help, find, glossary and annotations boxes all open at the same time the documentary is running. When this is done, the annotations box changes as the film progresses, letting one know which annotation files can be accessed that are relevant to what is being discussed in the documentary at that time.

Among the problems that were encountered while testing this disk were: there is no message telling the user that the system is working or to wait, a number of boxes cannot appear on the page simultaneously (such as the film and the commentary), the larger video display window makes the videos appear somewhat blurry, there is no counter to allow one to easily scroll the film to a specific spot, there is no way to stop the program if it's working on a series of actions (e.g. scrolling), moving boxes along the screen can produce a distracting "white shadow" effect behind after the box is in place, one is not told how to move to the next page when in the commentaries mode and the software does not allow the user to run other packages at the same time (thus, one cannot print a screen capture, use the Internet, etc). Overall, I would highly recommend this valuable product for the history sections of public libraries and the science libraries of school, college, and university libraries.

Steven M. Bergson (
Graduate School of Library and Information Science,
University of Western Ontario,
London, ON