The Unicode® Consortium

International Unicode Conference

San Jose, California
September 14-15, 1995

E3: Globalized Language Learning:
WinCALIS, A Unicode-Based Authoring


Richard Kunst
Duke University

© Copyright 1995, Unicode, Inc.
and Duke University


All text in WinCALIS application window screens shown is stored and processed as Unicode text.


Duke University's involvement in computer-assisted language learning (CALL) goes back to 1979, with the development of a simple system for drill and practice in German using a Hewlett-Packard mini-computer at Triangle Universities Computation Center via 300 bps phone lines. That was the beginning of the CALIS (Computer-Assisted Language Instruction System) language and authoring environment. Since it was a strictly 7-bit ASCII system, the diaeresis for German umlauts was indicated by the system and by students by typing a colon after the vowel it belonged over (u: etc.) In the early 1980s, under the supervision of Prof. Frank Borchardt of the Dept. of Germanic Languages, CALIS was ported to the IBM-PC and translated from its original HP-BASIC to the C language. The CALIS system also was applied to CALL in other West European languages. On the PC with the basic U.S. DOS code page 437, the accents needed for German umlauts and most lower-case letters in West European languages became possible.

But it was with the release of the EGA (Enhanced Graphics Adaptor) card in 1984 that real opportunities for multilingual processing and display opened on the PC platform. In the mid-80s versions of CALIS accompanied by the appropriate soft fonts for the EGA card were developed for Portuguese, Russian, Greek, even Amharic (Ethiopic). Prototypes were developed for Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew. The routines developed at Duke for handling these various scripts under DOS using the EGA card were separately circulated beginning in 1986 as the "Duke Language Toolkit."

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