Shakespeare has been fair game for electronic publishers ever since Steve Jobs threw in a copy of the Complete Works with his company's now-defunct NeXT workstation.
A new CD-Rom from World Microfilms offers Shakespeare with a different spin. Instead of the text of the plays and poems as the bard might have written them had he possessed a word processor, the CD entitled Shakespeare: his Life, Times and Works offers black and white images of approximately 5000 pages of manuscripts and printed documents from the 16th and early 17th centuries. Among the documents are books and plays that Shakespeare himself might have read, including the Holinshed Chronicles that were the source for several of his plays.
The CD is edited by the American Shakespeare scholar Sam Schoenbaum, and sells with a network licence for Pounds 120.
World Microfilms will be publishing further historic documents on CD, beginning with the Trinity Apocalypse, a mediaeval illuminated manuscript owned by Trinity College, Cambridge. The company can do this without expensive visits to libraries and museums since it already has images of many documents on microfilm. Unlike the Shakespeare CD, the images of the Trinity Apocalypse will be in full colour.