I first learned about Atomica from Buzz at ActiveWords. ActiveWords is like a macro language for your operating system, and the Atomica Personal Client Atomica service is one of the ways you can hook up words that you’re typing to their definitions.

When I was at Pop!Tech I happened, but pure random chance, to end up eating lunch one day with Bob Rosenschein, Atomica’s founder and CEO. I mentioned my experience using Atomica through ActiveWords, and Bob recommended that I try out their dedicated Atomica Personal client too.

So I did.

Atomica is very, very nifty. What it allows you to do is to ALT+click on any word or phrase on your screen to get more information. What “more information” means depends on the word and the context. For example, if I see “EKG” on the screen, and ALT+click on it, an Atomica window pops up and tells me “EKG stands for Electrocardiogram.” Not earth shattering news I realize, but very helpful nonetheless, especially when you do it 5 or 6 times a day.

Atomica is not just a dictionary, though. If I see “Albert Einstein” on the screen and ALT-click on it, an Atomica window pops up with “Albert Einstein, Physicist” and continues on with a 250-word mini-biography of Einstein, with relevant dates, etc.

If you’re a writer, Atomica will become an invaluable tool, I’m almost certain. One of the stories Bob related about the product is a call he got one day from Peter Jennings, who raved about the product and said he used it every day.

I recommend you try it out. (Note: only available for Windows machines).


Charlie's picture
Charlie on November 30, 2001 - 20:02 Permalink

The 2002 version of Encarta includes a small app called FactFinder that runs in the system tray. Same idea, hold down alt (I think) and click and it fetches appropriate information. I like being able to click on a company name and get an up to the minute stock price. As a side note, I payed the extra $30 for the Encarta Reference Library as Microsoft Canada had an offer to donate a copy of the same edition you purchased to a grade school of your choice. That sold me quicker than any mail-in rebate.