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Company in the Spotlight: 'It's showtime!' on the Web

Sunday, April 02, 2000

By Joyce Gannon, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Think the combination of network and cable television channels offers too many programs to choose from? Just wait until Internet TV takes off.

Algor Chairman Michael Bussler monitors a live Webcast demonstrating Algor software from the TechniMedia studio in the Algor office building in RIDC Park, O'Hara. (Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette) 

So says Michael Bussler, who recently launched an Internet TV Web site based in Pittsburgh.

"Ultimately, the Internet is going to supplant your TV set," said Bussler, 58, an entrepreneur who's been running Algor Inc., a $10 million software company, for the last 24 years.

Convinced that if he could sell software on the Web he could sell entertainment on the Web, Bussler tapped his own staff's Internet expertise and last fall launched Technimedia Inc. to produce "Webcasts" in a studio attached to Algor's offices in the RIDC Industrial Park, O'Hara.

The Webcasts can be accessed on the site, .

Technimedia is currently producing 20 shows with a lineup that includes a forum for local teens to review movies and pop music; a financial advice program hosted by former Pittsburgh Steeler-turned-investment adviser Randy Grossman; live dance lessons; foreign language instruction; and a showcase for local talents such as the Billy Price Band. Other show topics include board games, books, history and spirituality -- all written and hosted by local experts.

The site was officially launched last month when it began accepting paid advertising. Ad revenues to date are negligible, Bussler said, but they are enough to make him confident he should continue to expand the site's programming.

Technimedia Inc

Business: Produces local entertainment programs accessible through Internet Webcasts.

Headquarters: O'Hara.

History: Technimedia Inc. is a subsidiary of computer software company Algor Inc. that was created in 1999 to provide local, specialized entertainment on the Internet.

Employees: 10

Web site:


One reason Webcasts will appeal to computer-savvy audiences, said Bussler, is that they can be accessed on demand. In other words, viewers aren't tied to a broadcast schedule in which programs are shown only at certain times.

"If you miss the news at 7, you can tune it in on the Internet at 7:15 and get it in its entirety" through a Webcast, Bussler said.

Viewers can download free Microsoft MediaPlayer software to access programs and adjust the speed of the Webcast, according to their specific computer modems.

In order to fill what Bussler sees as an untapped market niche, will develop programs targeted to very narrow interest groups -- a concept TV programmers have generally ignored over the years in the ever-growing battle for mass audience ratings.

"You'll be able to get new programming that didn't exist before and programming for your own interests," Bussler said.

He became intrigued by the Internet about five years ago when Algor started using the medium to sell its engineering-design software.

Though he's spent most of his career as an engineer, Bussler said he was very comfortable in the entertainment sector.

He earned his first college degree in journalism from Penn State University in 1964.

A native of South Williamsport, Lycoming County, who boasts that he "grew up in the shadow of the Little League World Series," Bussler played electric and acoustic guitars in a high school band.

After Penn State, he served in the Air Force for five years, including a one-year tour in Vietnam. As a military officer, he worked in the Air Force public relations division as a specialist in public relations and community relations.

Following his military duty, Bussler entered what is now Carnegie Mellon University, where he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering.

Bussler liked Pittsburgh and wanted to stay, so he interviewed only for jobs in the area.

He held a couple of positions at small companies before he joined Westinghouse Electric Corp. in 1974 and then launched his own firm in 1976.

Algor was originally an engineering consulting business, then provided computer time-sharing, and in the mid-1980s, began specializing in software for engineers.

It now employs about 80. Ten employees are working full time for the Webcast venture.

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