Klett, Stuttgart

June 16-20 1980

Klett is one of Germany's leading publishers, particularily of school text books and dictionaries. I was invited to visit them to discuss methods of analysing machine-readable dictionaries with their computing consultant, G.Lieser. Klett had previously obtained a copy of the Hornby OALDCE transcript from the Archive, and much of my time in Stuttgart was spent discussing the problems of 'parsing' entries in this dictionary by computer, in order to extract all the subfields while still retaining the ability to reconstitute the original entry. I was able to offer Klett a copy of the new Collins dictionary(which poses similar but different problems) in return for their hospitality and also for a copy of the so-called WEBMARC format transcript of Webster's 7th - a dictionary we have been trying with little success to obtain from the publishers for two or three years. Having defined a suitable data structure for dictionary entries, Klett1s objective is to merge entries from different dictionaries in order to build up an authoritative lexicographical database against which new bilingual dictionaries might be validated.

Klett is also active in the field of computer typesetting; their equipment (a Digiset) is driven by the German-written DOSY-system, which appears to offer a (fairly) user-friendly interface similar to that proposed for the Lasercomp. One difference is that the Digiset allows for point-size to be selected independently (within certain ranges) of font, so that the number of fonts stored is smaller. Using this equipment and special software written by Lieser, Klett have produced very high quality Arabic output. Their mainframe is an IBM 370, running ynder DOS (?), which has very little flexibility (l was told that only VSAM files were supported), but they also have a DELTA system supporting about 50 interactive terminals , and an antiquated Philips machine doing the payroll. They also have an under-utilised OCR which reads only OCR typefaces.

I also spent a day at nearby Tubingen where I was able to visit Dr W.Ott who provides at the Computing Service of the University of Tubingen a service very similar to that provided by Susan here at Oxford. Two things particularly impressed me at Tubingen: the first was the recently published concordance to the Vulgate. This was produced entirely at the Computing Centre using Ott's programs to generate the concordance and format it for direct input to Klett's digiset. The resulting plates were sold at commercial rates to the publishers by a holding company called Pagina (which also publishes the new journal Data Verarbeitung). The concordance is being sold at an astounding DM700 per each of' five vols; Ott told me estimated the production cost of each volume at 30 marks. The second impressive thing I saw at Tubingen was a 17 year old CDC machine (due for retirement next year) which takes up about as much space as the average German tram and is full of spaghetti, but still supports the computing requirement of one of Germany's larger universities, with over 95% serviceability.