TRON Project Leader's Opinion

Ken Sakamura

The University Museum, The University of Tokyo

This year another year is about to come to a close. Almost 20 years have elapsed since the TRON Project began. Even TRONWARE, which has reached Vol. 60 with this issue, has attained its 10th anniversary. It had been decided to finish off the year by holding TRONSHOW and a TRON symposium in December of each year. Although over the last several years there were occasions when they didn't open in December due to scheduling circumstances, this year, after quite a spell, it became possible to finish off December with TRONSHOW and a TRON symposium.

When we take a look back at the year this year, one could say that in various senses the TRON Project has taken root as a long-term computer project. I believe we could say the project has come to regularly produce results. This year I think not singular, but rather multiple results appeared from the TRON Project. Since it is impossible to touch on them one by one here, I shall discuss the overall trends.

First, makers who are applying TRON beginning with ITRON are makers of embedded products, not personal computers. Since the product itself is what is important in the end, not mentioning the operating system that was adopted has generally been the case up to now. Both in airplanes and automobiles, ordinarily no one cares what engine is mounted. However, recently circumstances have changed, and in spite of the fact that it is not directly related to those products, there has been an increase in the number of firms that are mentioning the fact that they are using TRON, for which I am very thankful.

In fact, ITRON is being used in great quantities throughout the world. It has been adopted in various types of equipment for daily living, from photocopiers to air conditioners, car navigation systems, engine controllers, digital cameras, portable telephones, and the like. As to making public the use of ITRON recently, it is great progress that there has been an increase of individuals who consider it an expression of reliability; it says they are using a proper operating system. This shows that the use of TRON is steadily spreading. I would like to express my appreciation that this year many firms, without relation to manufactured products, have made public the fact that they have adopted TRON and thereby contributed to the spread of the TRON Project.

Second, in addition to operating systems that have taken root, I am left with the strong impression that BTRON also, for which steady efforts have continued, has scored a grand slam after a long spell. The BTRON operating system loaded with 130,000 characters called "Cho Kanji [Ultra Kanji]" has finally appeared. Although I have been talking about the basic structure and mechanisms from over 10 years ago, creating the fonts, to take one thing, is an immense undertaking, and furthermore creating a dictionary for kanji search is also a lot of trouble. In parallel with activities to create these provisions, the Mojikyo Institute, which possesses a large-scale character set, came to actively cooperate with us. I would like to express my appreciation also to the individuals who provided us with this large-scale character set. I am very happy that the chance has come to get BTRON recognized as a basic platform for large-scale characters sets.

And then, as for EnableWare activities, their continuation is in itself power. At this year's TRON EnableWare symposium the theme is handicapped design for information devices. On this occasion, we have invited Dr. John Gill, chief scientist of the Royal National Institute for the Blind and a world renowned expert on handicapped design, who we requested to give a special lecture. This gives us the occasion to talk about what the infrastructure in the society of the coming 21st century should be, and to join hands in cooperation while discussing the computer future in the coming 21st century. I would also like to express my thanks to the British Embassy, which cooperated in this matter.

Although there is a tendency in certain parts to obstruct the TRON Project by intentionally creating misunderstanding with terms like "Rising Sun" and "island nation-like" in regard to it, providing an electronic infrastructure that will contribute to people throughout the world who possess various cultures is the goal of the TRON Project. At this time when we are shortly to greet in the 21st century, a bright future in which great results will be appear awaits the TRON Project. I would like to continue with these efforts not for a narrow purpose like merely trying to maximize the profits of private firms, but for humanity throughout the world, who must decided how people should be and how society should be in the 21st century.

The above opinion piece by TRON Project Leader Ken Sakamura appeared on page 1 of Vol. 60 of TRONWARE. It was translated and loaded onto this page with the permission of Personal Media Corporation.

Copyright © 1999 Personal Media Corporation

Copyright © 1999 Sakamura Laboratory, University Museum, University of Tokyo