Multimedia is content that uses a combination of different forms of content such as text, audio, images, animations, videos, and interactive content. Multimedia contrasts with media that use only rudimentary computer displays such as text or traditional forms of printed or hand-made material.

Multimedia can be recorded and played, displayed, interacted with or accessed by information from content processing devices, such as computer and electronic devices, but can also be part of a live performance. Multimedia devices are electronic devices used to store and play multimedia content. Multimedia differs from mixed media in the fine arts; for example, including audio, it has a wider reach. In the early years of multimedia, the term “rich media” was synonymous with interactive multimedia and “hypermedia” was an application of multimedia.


The term multimedia was coined by singer and artist Bob Goldstein (later “Bobb Goldsteinn”) to promote the opening in July 1966 of his show “LightWorks at L’Oursin” in Southampton, Long Island. [1] Goldstein may have been aware of an American artist named Dick Higgins, who had discussed a new approach to art making two years earlier called “intermedia”. [2]

On August 10, 1966, Variety’s Richard Albarino borrowed the terminology, reporting: “Brainchild of Bob-Bob (‘Washington Square’) Goldstein, the ‘Lightworks’ is the latest multi-media-visual-visual to debut as a fare disco. [3] Two years later, in 1968, the term “multimedia” was re-appropriated to describe the work of a political consultant, David Sawyer, the husband of Iris Sawyer, one of Goldstein’s producers at L ‘ Sea urchin.

In the forty years that followed, the word took on different meanings. In the late 1970s, the term referred to presentations consisting of timed multi-projector slideshows on an audio track. However, in the 1990s, “multimedia” took on its current meaning.

In the first edition of Multimedia: Making It Work, 1993, Tay Vaughan said, “Multimedia is a combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video that is provided by computer. To control when and when these elements are delivered, it is an interactive multimedia: when you provide a structure of linked elements through which the user can navigate, the interactive multimedia becomes hypermedia. [4]

The German company Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache recognized the meaning and omnipresence of the word in the 1990s by awarding it the title of “Word of the Year” in 1995. [5] The Institute summarized its logic by stating that “[Multimedia] has become a central word in the wonderful world of new media”. [6]

In common usage, the term multimedia refers to a combination of electronically supplied media, including video, still images, audio and text, accessed interactively. Much of the content on the Web today fits into this definition as understood by millions of people. Some computers that were marketed in the 1990s were called “multimedia” computers because they incorporated a CD-ROM drive, which allowed the delivery of several hundred megabytes of video, image, and audio data. This era also saw an increase in the production of educational multimedia CD-ROMs.

The term “video”, if not exclusively used to describe motion photography, is ambiguous in multimedia terminology. Video is often used to describe the file format, delivery format, or presentation format instead of “footage” that is used to distinguish motion photography from “animation” from rendered motion imagery. Multiple forms of information content are often not considered modern forms of presentation such as audio or video. Similarly, unique forms of information content with unique methods of information processing (eg non-interactive audio) are often referred to as multimedia, perhaps to distinguish static media from active media. In the fine arts, for example, Leda Luss Luyken by ModulArt brings two key elements of music composition and cinema in the world of painting: the variation of a theme and the movement and within an image, which ModulArt an interactive multimedia form art. Performing arts can also be considered multimedia, since artists and props are multiple forms of content and media.

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