Interactive Media is best defined as comprising multimedia products and services that: (1) make integrated use of the following media in one product: text, still images (photographs or graphics), moving images (live action or animation) and audio;(2) use computer commands to integrate these elements which allow the user to control the sequence of events or outcome; and (3) use an online or offline digital delivery system. [1]
To fully understand

interactivity, one must be aware of the technological advances (The Digital Revolution) that made its emergence possible.
1. Analog to Digital Technology
2. CDs
3. Personal Computers
4. The Internet

Analog to Digital Technology
Before the dawn of binary code media was recorded in an analog format (i.e. records, film, cassette tapes, etc.). This format was limiting. Digital media takes a previously analog signal and converts it into binary code (a series of 1’s and 0’s). The digital media can then be understood by a computer, cell phone, DVD player etc. and is ready for human interaction. The transfer of analog to digital media opened a limitless world of possibilities.

CDs
The first and most groundbreaking moment for digital technology was the CD or compact disc. It was introduced in 1982 to replace, then, dominating cassette tapes; CD’s offered higher quality sound and a longer amount of time for recording. This transition to digital technology proved to be incredibly groundbreaking once the CD-ROM was introduced for personal computer use. A CD-ROM can store up to 650 megabytes for data transfer at a rate of 150 kilobytes per second; completely topping the, then most common, use of 3.5 “ floppy disks which held only about 1 megabyte. You could now produce and run large data-heavy programs on personal computers. The introduction of the CD-ROM would soon revolutionize interactive media. With more savable/transferable data, programs were able to be more in depth and allow the user to explore new boundaries, such as: DVD title menus, CD/DVD bonus content, and elaborate computer games.

Personal Computers (PCs)
It wasn’t until the common adoption of personal computers in households that interactive media really took off. Affordability opened a major venue for 3rd party software companies and overall competition in the tech market, thus creating a massive flow of interactive media. Computer games are the most interactive of all software. They allow the user to play in virtual environments and make in-game decisions that (through programming) change the fate or outcome of the user’s game.

The Internet
The introduction of the Internet yielded the biggest leap in the direction of widespread interactive media. With its adoption into a majority of households in the 1990s came a massive flow of interactive media. Interactive media via the Internet is only limited by the amount of bandwidth available to the user. The speed of the user’s Internet connection usually dictates the size and capabilities of an online interface. Examples of online interactive media include, and are not limited to: search engines (yahoo), shopping sites (ebay, amazon), e-mail services (gmail, yahoo, hotmail), news sites (cnn, new york times, ap news), music stores (itunes, napster), streaming video sites (hulu, youtube).


www.atsf.co.uk/atsf/interactive_media.pdf