Fun_People Archive
19 Jun
CompuServe Announces PNG-Based Graphics Specification

Date: Mon, 19 Jun 95 14:37:20 PDT
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: CompuServe Announces PNG-Based Graphics Specification

Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
From: Wendell Craig Baker <>

Remember the CompuServe flap over GIF of last January?  CompuServe
first came out and said that everyone had to get a license to use GIF.
Then as the flames rose they explained that they were only doing this
because Unisys required it for their compression patent.  Somehow they
had neglected to mention this at first, and had chosen a holiday
weekend to make their license requirements known.

In response various people proposed a new graphics format that was
unpatented.  CompuServe finally resolved the situation by promising to
return with a patent-clean graphics standard.  Then we heard nothing
from them.  Well, they're back with a new graphics standard in hand.
The press release announcing it follows.

The full story was:

   CompuServe's GIF24 effort
   Tue, 17 Jan 1995 20:06:53 -0800

   Unisys Clarifies Policy Regarding Patent Use in On-Line Service Offerings
   Sat, 07 Jan 1995 00:09:15 -0800

   Unisys Policy Change Regarding GIF/LZW
   Fri, 06 Jan 1995 22:56:18 -0800

   CompuServe announces GIF developer license program
   Tue, 03 Jan 1995 14:50:49 -0800



Fully Open 24 Bit Graphics Capability for Electronic Graphics

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 15, 1995 -- CompuServe Incorporated today
announced the completion of  a new 24-bit graphics specification that
was announced earlier this year.  This new, enhanced 24-bit lossless
specification will offer the professional graphics community a significant
enhancement to the earlier GIF 89a specification while also eliminating
the proprietary LZW software, replacing it with compression technology
compliant with the PNG (pronounced `ping') specification.
        "The new specification is a true 24-bit lossless format that will
give users a 16 million color palette and represents a significant
enhancement over the previous GIF technology," said Tim Oren,
CompuServe vice president of future technology.  "More importantly,
this new specification has been created with tremendous attention to
making it free, open and rights clear so that anyone can incorporate it
into their products without fear of patent infringement."
        The new specification was developed as a collaboration between
CompuServe and several key communities: The Internet PNG group led
by Thomas Boutell, and including Jean-loup Gailly and Mark Adler, the
developers of Deflate and Inflate; and the CompuServe online graphics
forums (GO GRAPHICS). Ultimately, CompuServe's new graphics
specification  adopted compression technology that was based on the
PNG specification.  As a result of those efforts, CompuServe has
determined that the PNG format closely meets the future requirements
for graphics interchange on the Internet, on CompuServe and on other
services.  Based on current evaluation results, PNG will also be useful
for exchange of information between graphics software products
        "Earlier this year, there was a great deal of attention paid to GIF
on the Internet," continued Oren.  "Much of it was constructive and
served not only to move the 24-bit graphics project off the back burner,
but also gave us connections to the Internet team which helped us create
the new PNG-compatible graphics specification in only five months.
This cooperative effort has benefited the whole online community and
should serve as a model for how the Internet's positive and creative
forces can be focused."
        PNG  makes use of a data compression technology called
`deflation' used in the freeware Info-Zip programs.   CompuServe has
adopted the PNG format and is creating a free toolkit that will create
graphics meeting the PNG specification while avoiding  patent concerns.
The toolkit will be available within the next few weeks.
        Though CompuServe will hold a copyright on the toolkit,  it is
understood that its free distribution and use is encouraged and expected.
To maintain the free and clear patent status of  the new specification, it
will not be backward compatible with the current GIF89a specification.
Adoption of the new PNG-based specification will take place over time,
allowing a smooth transition to the new format.  CompuServe will also
provide a conversion utility from GIF89a to PNG for use in conjunction
with the CompuServe Information Services.  This utility will be
available within the next few weeks.
        The CompuServe Information Service continues to be the
world's most successful and most popular online and Internet service
with millions of members who go online  from more than 3.1 million
active, paying accounts in more than 150 countries.  The undisputed
industry leader in innovation, the service offers global email, the
industry's first CD-ROM supplement, libraries of  free software,
selected 28.8 kbps access and worldwide direct Internet access services.
For a free introductory CompuServe membership, call 800-524-3388
and ask for representative number 664, or access CompuServe's home
page on the World Wide Web (
        In addition to the CompuServe Information Service,
CompuServe offers networking, Internet services, electronic mail and
business information services to major corporations worldwide.
        CompuServe is an H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) company.
# # #

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []