Audio Gallery - History
Audio Gallery was the first (debuting in 1989) commercial multimedia-based foreign language learning tool for the computer. It was developed on the Amiga, a computer very friendly to multimedia applications. The first Audio Gallery was Spanish, reflecting the wide popularity of this language in the US. However, Fairbrothers produced a Chinese version next, for two reasons: 1) We wanted to see if it was possible to display Oriental characters on the computer 2) We wanted to see if it was easy to readily duplicate the first Audio Gallery.
Since there were no available glyphs of Chinese for the Amiga, we created approximately 400 Chinese characters using a font editor, pixel-by-pixel. We added accompanying music using the MED format (four-channel music was built into the Amiga) and other features, such as animation and echoing voices (features which were difficult to port to the first versions of MS Windows).
Sadly, Commodore, the manufacturer of the Amiga, fell prey to superior marketing forces and went bankrupt, but Fairbrothers has now produced PC versions of the original Audio Gallery series.
In the present day, Audio Gallery may now not be the prettiest language-learning software on the market, but it is arguably the cheapest. Check out the competition. Although their artwork may be better, and the graphics of Audio Gallery were only "cutting edge" at least a decade ago, the digitized sound is not lacking in quality. Click on the sound samples above. Other language learning programs may even try to foist off on the unwary customer a synthetic computer voice, which is prone to errors in pronunciation. Audio Gallery uses only real people, and digitized speech. And what do you need to learn a language? To look at nice pictures, or to hear the actual voices of native speakers, talking in their own local dialects and accents?
Because there are so many variations of Windows, and they are not all compatible, we recommend you download the demo before purchasing anything. The demo is a one-scene version of Japanese. If your computer can display the fonts (Japanese characters) then you should have no problems with any of the other Audio Gallery's.