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SoftKey

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SoftKey International was a publisher and distributor of CD-ROM based personal computer software for Windows and Macintosh computers during the late 1980s and 1990s. The brand appears to have been merged with The Learning Company at some point in the mid 1990s.

SoftKey International Inc. is ranked as one of the world's largest consumer software publishers in the 1995 Soft-Letter 100. SoftKey develops, publishes and markets over 300 consumer software titles targeted at the home user in the edutainment, lifestyle and productivity categories. SoftKey's product offerings include popular titles such as Calendar Creator, BodyWorks 4.0, The American Heritage Talking Dictionary, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar, MPC Wizard, KeyCAD Complete, Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia, Time Almanac and the Platinum CD-ROM jewel case, KeyKids and CD-ROM Power Pack lines. SoftKey products are sold in more than 19,000 stores in over 40 countries in the retail, direct mail and OEM sales channels.

Titles

News

The Learning Company and Softkey Sign Definitive Merger Agreement

Fremont, CA and Cambridge, MA -- December 7, 1995 -- The Learning Company (NASDAQ: LRNG) and SoftKey International Inc. (NASDAQ: SKEY) today announced that The Learning Company and SoftKey have signed a definitive merger agreement and that The Learning Company has terminated its merger agreement with Broderbund Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: BROD).

Under terms of the agreement, SoftKey's wholly owned subsidiary, Kidsco Inc., will offer to purchase approximately 8.28 million shares of The Learning Company for $67.50 per share in cash. These shares represent all of The Learning Company shares outstanding, including vested stock options, as of December 6, 1995. Approximately 1.1 million unvested Learning Company options will be converted into SoftKey options based on an exchange ratio. The transaction will have a total value of approximately $606 million, consisting of $558 million in cash for all of the outstanding common stock, including vested options, and an additional net consideration of $48 million in common stock for the currently unvested employee stock options.

"We are very excited about the combination of The Learning Company and SoftKey," said Michael Perik, SoftKey's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "The combined company -- including Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation and Compton's -- will be the largest educational software company in the world, with a broad selection of high-quality titles and a distribution system in retail, OEM, international and direct response unmatched by any competitor. High-quality software at affordable prices is the future of the consumer software market, and our proven strategy of brand line extension will provide a full range of exceptional educational software for parents, teachers and the home audience worldwide."

"There will be tremendous opportunities for The Learning Company developers and creative talent at SoftKey, as the largest developer and publisher of educational software," said Kevin O'Leary, SoftKey's President. "We expect to strengthen our research and development and creative marketing programs in the combined company and continue to produce the world-class products The Learning Company is so well known for. This development powerhouse will allow us to create unmatched affordable software for children of all ages."

Bill Dinsmore, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Learning Company, said, "Our Board of Directors unanimously concluded that the revised SoftKey merger terms are clearly in the best interests of The Learning Company's stockholders. At $67.50 per share in cash, this transaction represents a substantial premium over The Learning Company's stock price prior to the July 31, 1995 announcement of the original merger agreement with Broderbund. We look forward to a rapid completion of the transaction and to working with SoftKey to ensure the smoothest transition possible."

On November 30, 1995, Tribune Company agreed to become a strategic investment partner with SoftKey, in the event SoftKey acquired a majority of the common stock of The Learning Company. Tribune also will merge Compton's, a Tribune information software company, into SoftKey. Robert D. Bosau, Tribune NewMedia/Education executive vice president, said, "Tribune's strategies of aggressive growth in supplemental education and new media will take a giant step forward as we become SoftKey's largest shareholder. We are enthusiastic about our partnership and look forward to helping to build the world's leading educational software company."

The Learning Company and SoftKey said that The Learning Company shareholder meeting related to the proposed Broderbund merger that had been set for December 11 has been canceled, as has the special shareholder meeting that had been set for January 8. All related litigation among The Learning Company, SoftKey, Broderbund and the Tribune Company will be withdrawn.

SoftKey International Inc. Changes Name to The Learning Company, Inc.

Cambridge, MA -- October 24, 1996 -- SoftKey International Inc. (Nasdaq: SKEY), a leading provider of educational software, today announced that the company is changing its name to "The Learning Company, Inc." The new name is effective today. In conjunction with the new name, the company is unveiling today a new corporate logo for The Learning Company with the slogan "For Greater Knowledge."

"As the market share leader in educational software, we are America's Learning Company," said Michael Perik, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Eighty percent of our revenue comes from educational and reference products. Our new corporate name, The Learning Company, Inc., sends a clear and powerful signal about our core business: providing the best software in education and reference for children and adults who want to learn."

"Our family of premium software brands provides the best educational software to consumers of every age through our many powerful channels of distribution. Changing our corporate name will help us focus on this core business as we continue to develop exciting new content and to expand our distribution to new media and to more countries," Perik continued.

President Kevin O'Leary explained that the new corporate name will not change the company's branding strategy. Educational software will continue to be marketed to consumers and schools under The Learning Company and MECC brands; reference software will continue to be marketed under the new Compton's Home Library brand. Other SoftKey products, including productivity, value-priced software and other localized products in international markets, will also continue to be sold under their respective brands. "However, just as out recent consumer research led to the launch of the new Compton's Home Library reference line, we are continuing to research our other categories of software and will launch additional new brands according to consumer demand," said O'Leary.

In a separate press release, the company also announced today that the listing of its common stock is moving to the New York Stock Exchange. Trading is expected to begin in mid November under the symbol "TLC." Until that time, the company's common stock will continue to trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol "SKEY."

SoftKey International Launches New Compton's Home Library Brand

FREMONT, Calif., September 9, 1996 —- SoftKey International Inc. (Nasdaq: SKEY) today announced the launch of a new premium software brand, Compton's Home Library, based on the highly regarded Compton's name. The new brand will comprise a complete line of core reference, lifestyle and special interest programs. The first products will be introduced in October with more to follow.

The Compton's Home Library products are designed specifically to meet consumers' home information needs. Each product in the line will provide easy access to a wealth of information for researching, learning and exploring. Several will enable users to tap directly into the best of the Internet for up-to-date information.

In conjunction with the launch of the brand, the company is also introducing a refined Compton's logo, a three-dimensional torch in red and gold. The new packaging has a consistent look and feel across products, encouraging retailers to display them as a complete system under the Compton's brand, and making it easier for consumers to identify products in the line. In support of the new brand, SoftKey will launch an extensive marketing campaign that will include print advertising, holiday promotions and more.

The new Compton's Home Library brand is the result of extensive research by SoftKey. "Our research told us that people have come to trust the Compton's name for high-quality, easy-to-use CD-ROM reference products. With that knowledge, we decided to take this well-known brand name and broaden it to include not only traditional reference, but also lifestyle and special interest products," said Diana James-Cairns, vice president of marketing for SoftKey. "This new brand represents the first fruits of the new SoftKey organization which combines the core competencies of Compton's, SoftKey and The Learning Company. These products were created by SoftKey's internal development teams and are based on consumer-driven marketing principles that The Learning Company has been applying to its products for years."

The first of the Compton's Home Library products shipping this Fall include:

  • Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia 1997 - This comprehensive encyclopedia is the reference resource for discovering and experiencing a world of information. With more powerful search capabilities, direct links to related Web sites, and monthly online updates--in addition to thousands of articles and extensive multimedia--Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia instantly and easily provides users exactly the information they need.
  • Compton's Interactive World Atlas - This complete atlas is the versatile home resource for planning travel, writing reports or exploring the world. It features hundreds of detailed maps and in-depth articles for every country in the world; thousands of statistics; a multitude of photographs, videos and music clips; online access to up-to-date information; and even user-controlled 3D flights.
  • The Complete Interactive Cookbook - This complete cookbook has all the ingredients required for planning and preparing perfect recipes and meals. With more than 2,500 recipes, 8,000 color photographs, 2,000 chef tips, shopping lists, nutritional information and menu planning - The Complete Interactive Cookbook is the one cooking program easy enough for every day and sophisticated enough for entertaining.
  • Battles of the World - This comprehensive CD-ROM showcases the history of war with as much emphasis on education as on entertainment. Relive key moments of world history through an interactive timeline spanning more than 4,000 years. The program also explores 10 of the world's most pivotal battles through animation, video, colorful maps, strategy explanation and comprehensive analysis.
  • The Genius of Edison - This special interest CD-ROM explores the life and inventions of one of the world's most important inventors - Thomas Edison. Through 3D animation, historic film footage, narrated passages, rare original photographs, music and hyperlinks, 13 of Edison's inventions come to life. The program also includes an interactive timeline of world events of the 1800s.

See Also