Grand Forks-Fargo, North Dakota and Minneapolis, Minnesota
Ask-Me Multimedia was founded in 1985 at the dawn of the personal computer industry. It was started at the Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. It was subsequently relocated to Fargo, ND and incubated at the Promersberger Company. In 1991, Ask-Me Multimedia attracted venture capital and was relocated to Minneapolis, MN. Several years later it was acquired by publicly-traded Midisoft and moved to Seattle, WA.
|Ask-Me Multimedia Kiosk,
Holiday Inn Lobby
Mike O’Donnell, Bruce Gjovig, Larry Aubol
Ask-Me Multimedia invented and commercialized some of the first interactive multimedia public-access kiosks. They were placed in hotel lobbies, hospitals and shopping malls. They were used to inform and direct visitors, printing directions and coupons. At first the kiosks were placed free-of-charge in venues visited by tourists, and were supported by selling advertisements. Later on, they were sold to venues along with an annual support and maintenance contract.
Authoring and Computer-Based Training Software (back)
As personal computers gained in popularity, the company pivoted away from kiosks (which were expensive to mfg and had low margins), to computer software (which was inexpensive to mfg and had high margins). The standard version retailed for $495 and the professional version for $1995. Ask-Me was used by customers to create all kinds of media-rich applications, from employee training and manuals, to high-end business presentations. It was the first business-oriented software bundled with a PC sound card and sold through retailers like Egghead and Computerland.
|Super Show & Tell (front)||Super Show & Tell (back)|
As the demand for business presentation software grew and Microsoft entered the market with Powerpoint, the company introduced Super Show & Tell to carve out a position on the low-end of the market. SST retailed for $79 and was sold through a variety of software stores. It was especially popular among computer user groups. When Ask-Me was sold to Midisoft in 1995, SST helped them diversify from the music hobbyist software market into the business software market.