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/// Compton MultiMedia Patent 5,241,671 -- THE CLAIMS
    -------------------------------------------------
    Brought to you by Matt Heffron
    (heffron@falstaff.css.beckman.com)



Here are the 41 CLAIMS of the of the Compton multimedia patent:

5,241,671  "Multimedia search system using a plurality of entry
            path means which indicate interrelatedness of
            information"

At least all of the arguments about it can be "semi-informed"
The patent filing date is Oct 26, 1989.  So if anyone is looking
for prior art, that's the date to beat.

(This came from scanning/OCR-ing/cleanup of a hardcopy of the patent.
It is quite likely that there are typos. beware. 
Formatting is approximately the same as the patent.)

I've cross-posted this to A LOT OF GROUPS... PLEASE be selective
with followups.  I included comp.client-server and comp.databases
because they seemed to be the most likely to have good database access
knowledge.  I included comp.groupware because it looks like much of
their systems could be covered by some of the claims.  comp.sys.xerox is
there because some of the claims look a lot like what I remember seeing
in NoteCards long ago; if so, it would constitute prior-art.  I hope the
other groups are more obviously relevant.

Also, when following up, edit quotes from the claims to the minimal amount
that you are commenting on specifically.  Please don't just followup with
the whole thing and a flame about patent office stupidity or some such.

The first paragraph looks like the
"Statement of Intent to Milk This for Everything We Can"  !

Matt Heffron                      heffron@falstaff.css.beckman.com
Beckman Instruments, Inc.         voice: (714) 961-3128
2500 N. Harbor Blvd. MS X-10, Fullerton, CA 92634-3100
I don't speak for Beckman Instruments unless they say so.

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While a particular embodiment of the present invention has been
disclosed, it is to be understood that various different
modifications are possible and are contemplated as being within
the true spirit and scope of the claims. There is no intention,
therefore, of limiting this invention to the exact abstract or
disclosure presented herein. More particularly, it is
contemplated that this invention can be used with any
information that can be stored in a database. While the
present invention has largely been described with reference
to an encyclopedia, other databases of published graphical or
textual information could be included.

We claim:
1. A computer search system for retrieving information,
comprising:
  means for storing interrelated textual information and
    graphical information;
  means for interrelating said textual and graphical
    information;
  a plurality of entry path means for searching said
    stored interrelated textual and graphical information, said entry
    path means comprising:
  textual search entry path means for searching said
    textual information and for retrieving interrelated
    graphical information to said searched text;
  graphics entry path means for searching said graphical
    information and for retrieving interrelated textual information
    to said searched graphical information;
  selecting means for providing a menu of said plurality
    of entry path means for selection;
  processing means for executing inquiries provided by
    a user in order to search said textual and graphical
    information through said selected entry path
    means;
  indicating means for indicating a pathway that accesses
    information related in one of said entry path
    means to information accessible in another one of
    said entry path means;
  accessing means for providing access to said related
    information in said another entry path means; and
  output means for receiving search results from said
    processing means and said related information from
    said accessing means and for providing said search
    results and received information to such user.

2. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said textual information comprise words, phrases, numbers and
letters stored in said at least one database.

3. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said graphical information include maps, charts, pictures, and
moving images.

4. The search system according to claim 1 wherein
one of said graphical and textual information comprises
audio information.

5. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said graphical and textual information are stored on a
CD-ROM disc.

6. The search system according to claim 1, further
comprising a micro-computer for executing operations
of said search system, and for storing said graphical and
textual information.

7. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said graphical entry path means comprises interactively
narrowing a search of graphical images to a point indicated by
said indicating means which provide; a path to
said related textual information that is accessible
through said accessing means.

8. The search system according to claim 7, wherein
said indicating means in said textual entry path means
indicates a path to related graphical information that is
accessible by said accessing means.

9. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said textual entry path means and said graphical entry
path means include assisting means for assisting a user in
searching said graphical and textual information.

10. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said textual search entry path means comprises idea
entry path means having a searching means for searching said
plurality of types of information for terms and
phrases that closely resemble a search inquiry.

11. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said idea entry path means eliminates stop words by
comparing terms in said search inquiry to terms stored
in a stop term list and eliminating any search inquiry
terms that match words stored in said stop term list.

12. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said idea entry path means operates on phrases consisting
substantially of two or more entered terms.

13. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said idea entry path means includes spelling means for
checking the spelling of said search inquiry and provides
alternate versions of misspelled words to a user.

14. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said idea entry path means includes new list function
means which compares said search inquiry with a thesaurus
contained in one of said plurality of databases to
provide alternate non-ambiguous terms for said search
inquiry.

15. The search system according to claim 14, wherein
if more than one alternate non-ambiguous term is retrieved by
said list function means, then said new list
function means orders said alternatives in order of relevance to
said ambiguous terms.

16. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said search system includes a plurality of databases
which include stems which are referenced through a
stem index where each stem is identified with all related
stems in said stem index and are related to units of said
textual and graphical information, said stem terms being
concatenated in order to map each stem to other stems
and to units to textual information which express a
similar idea.

17. The search system according to claim 16, wherein
said concatenation comprises linking said stems together based on
grammatical linkages and based on
thesaurus linkages.

18. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said textual search path entry means further comprises
ranking means for ordering said textual information in
order of relevance to said search inquiry inputs.

19. The search system according to claim 18, wherein
said ranking means bases said ordering on an exhaustively
coefficient for said inputted search inquiry terms
or phrases and an exclusivity coefficient for said inputted
search inquiry terms or phrases.

20. The search system according to claim 19, wherein
all of said textual information ranked above a predetermined
exhaustivity and exclusivity threshold is separately designated.

21. The search system according to claim 10, wherein
said textual information comprises articles from an encyclopedia.

22. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
a portion of said graphical and textual information comprises an
encyclopedia

23. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
a portion of said graphical and textual information comprises a
dictionary.

24. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
a portion of said graphical and textual information comprises a
thesaurus.

25. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
a portion of said textual and graphical information comprises
audio information.

26. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
a portion of said graphical information comprises photographs,
maps, charts, graphs, drawings and animations.

27. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said textual entry path means comprises title finder
entry path means for locating titles, wherein said titles
are searched by said title finder entry path means by
moving through an alphabetical list of titles related to
said textual information;

28. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said textual search entry path means comprises a topic
tree entry path means for dividing said textual information into
topics and subtopics in order to assist in
browsing through said textual information.

29. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said graphics search entry path means comprises picture
explorer entry path means for locating at least one picture and
for employing said accessing means to retrieve
said textual information related to said at least one picture.

30. The system search according to claim 29, wherein
said picture explorer entry path means further comprises picture
tour search path means for presenting
pictures in random order.

31. The search system according to claim 29, wherein
said picture explorer entry path means includes picture
finder entry path means which searches picture captions
based upon said search inquiry inputs.

32. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
one of said textual entry path means comprises history
timeline entry path means for displaying events arranged on a
time line in order that a user may select
information about one of said events by activating said
event on a display.

33. The search system according to claim 32, wherein
said information about an event includes audio information.

34. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
one of said entry path means comprises an atlas entry
path means for enabling a search of a plurality of maps
of an atlas through said processing means which enables
the placement of a marker on a location on said atlas
which such that said atlas entry path means draws a
corresponding map round said specified place.

35. The search system according to claim 34, wherein
said atlas entry path means provides substantially multiple
levels of increasing detail for any part of said atlas.
36. The search system according to claim 34, wherein
said indicating means provides an indication of textual
information related to a place labelled on said atlas
which can be accessed through said accessing means.

37. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
said entry path means further comprises a feature articles entry
path means which takes a user directly to at
least one article in said computer scorch system.

38. The search system according to claim 1, wherein
one of said entry path means comprises a researcher's
assistant entry path which contains subject matter categories
divided into topics and said topics are further
divided into research assignments and wherein said
research assignments are ordered by level of difficulty.

39. A computer search system for retrieving information,
comprising:
  means for storing interrelated textual information and
    graphical information;
  means for interrelating said textual and graphical
    information;
  a plurality of entry path means for searching said
    stored interrelated textual and graphical information, said entry
    path means comprising:
  textual search entry path means for searching said
    textual information and for retrieving interrelated
    graphical information to said searched text;
  graphics entry path means for searching said graphical
    information and for retrieving interrelated textual information
    to said searched graphical information;
  title finder entry path means for assisting a user in
    uncovering titles stored in said stored textual information;
  selecting means for providing a menu of said plurality
    of entry path means for selection;
  processing means for executing inquiries provided by
    a user in order to search said textual and graphical
    information through said selected entry path
    means;
  indicating means for indicating a pathway that accesses
    information related in one of said entry path
    means to information accessible in another one of
    said entry path means,
  accessing means for providing access to said related
    information in said another entry path means; and
  output means for receiving search results from said
    processing means and said related information from
    said accessing means and for providing said search
    results and received information to such user.

40. A computer search system for retrieving information,
comprising:
  means for storing interrelated textual information and
    graphical information;
  means for interrelating said textual and graphical
    information;
  a plurality of entry path means for searching said
    stored interrelated textual and graphical information,
    said entry path means comprising textual search entry
    path means for searching said
    textual information and for retrieving interrelated
    graphical information to said searched text;
  graphics entry path means for searching said graphical
    information and for retrieving interrelated textual information
    to said searched graphical information;
  atlas entry path means for enabling a user to search
    maps of an atlas that are specified by such user in
    order that said atlas entry path means retrieves a
    map related to such user's inquiry;
  selecting means for providing a menu of said plurality
    of entry path means for selection;
  processing means for executing inquiries provided by
    a user in order to search said textual and graphical
    information through said selected entry path means;
  indicating means for indicating a pathway that accesses
    information related in one of said entry path
    means to information accessible in another one of
    said entry path means;
  accessing means for providing access to said related
    information in said another entry path means; and
  output means for receiving search results from said
    processing means and said related information from
    said accessing means and for providing said search
    results and received information to such user.

41. A computer search system for retrieving information,
comprising:
  means for storing interrelated textual information and
    graphical information;
  means for interrelating said textual and graphical
    information;
  a plurality of entry path means for searching said
    stored interrelated textual and graphical information, said entry
    path means comprising:
  idea search entry path means for searching said
    textual information;
  title finder entry path means for assisting a user in
    uncovering titles stored in said stored textual
    information;
  topic tree entry path means for associating said
    textual information with topics and subtopics in
    order to assist such user in searching said textual
    information;
  picture explorer entry path means for enabling the
    user to find at least one picture from said stored
    graphical information and to retrieve interrelated textual
    information related to said at least one picture,
  timeline entry path means enabling the user to
    search a timeline in order that such user may
    select said textual information about one of a
    plurality of events represented by said timeline
    by activating said one event;
  atlas entry path means for enabling the user to
    search maps of an atlas that arc specified by such
    user in order that said atlas entry path means
    draws a corresponding map around a specified
    location;
  feature articles entry path means which takes such
    user directly to at least one article in said search
    system; and
  researcher's assistant entry path means which has
    subject matter categories divided into topics
    which are further divided into research assignments ordered by
    level of difficulty;
  selecting means, for providing a menu of said plurality of entry
    path means for selection;
  processing means for executing inquiries provided by
    such user in order to search said textual and graphical
    information through said selected entry path means;
  indicating means for indicating a pathway that accesses
    information related in one of said entry path
    means to information accessible in another one of
    said envy path means;
  accessing means for providing a access to said related
    information in said another entry path means; and
  output means for receiving search results from said
    processing means aid said related information from
    said accessing means and for providing said search
    results and received information to a user.