Jim (the Frog) Taylor

Jim Taylor is an expert on new technologies, technical strategies, and business development. He was CTO and Head of Product Development for DECE, the cross-industry group responsible for UltraViolet, the online equivalent to DVD and Blu-ray. Jim is well known as the author of DVD Demystified and Blu-ray Disc Demystified, the best-selling book series published by McGraw-Hill. Called a "minor tech legend" by E! Online, Jim created the acclaimed Internet DVD FAQ and other FAQs, speaks and writes about digital video and audio technology, holds several patents, was listed as one of the 21 most influential DVD executives by DVD Report, and was named one of the Pioneers of DVD by One to One magazine. Jim has worked with interactive media for over 35 years, developing computer software, educational and entertainment media, and related technology, along with teaching workshops, seminars, and university graduate courses. Jim was previously Chief Technologist and GM of the Advanced Technology division of Sonic Solutions. Prior to joining Sonic in 2001, Jim was DVD Evangelist at Microsoft.

More about Jim in his own words:

I discovered computers when I was 13. My scout troop visited a company that had a minicomputer. I remember how proud they were to show us the old wire core memory boards they had recently removed and replaced with solid-state memory. We played a Star Trek game (with maps made of ASCII characters on a monochrome CRT -- Klingons were little "K"s). Halfway through the game the computer crashed. They had to reload the operating system and the game from punched paper tape. I knew then what would occupy the rest of my life.

My life of multimedia crime began in 1979 with the Montevidisco project at Brigham Young University, where I saw my first laserdisc player (an industrial MCA DiscoVision behemoth). After fiddling with the remote for a bit, I figured out how to program it to make the kids on the merry-go-round hop back and forth (bonus points if you recognize the laserdisc). From that point on I was hooked on random access video. I played a very small role in the development of Montevidisco, a ground-breaking language-learning multimedia project that used two Pioneer LD-V8000 players, video overlay cards, and other goodies at the cost of $18,000 per system. After 20 years we achieved most of the same functionality on an $80 DVD-Video player.

My various positions at BYU over the course of ten years included Manager of Microcomputer Support for Curriculum, Academic Computer Labs Administrator, Courseware Production Supervisor, Systems Programmer, and TICCIT Courseware Author. I developed and taught workshops on multimedia and computer applications, and I also taught a graduate computing course.

In 1991 my wife Julia and I moved to Seattle to join Videodiscovery, a publisher of educational multimedia. My job was to guide the company through the jungle of new technology and to develop technology-based solutions for production and operations. I served as Director of Software Development, Director of Information Technology, and VP of Information Technology.

From 1998 to mid 2000 I was on contract to Microsoft as DVD Evangelist (yes, that was my official title). From July 2000 to February 2001 I was Chief Technology Officer at Daikin U.S., a leading DVD authoring software developer. Our goal of spinning off the DVD business from Daikin (a multi-billion dollar company based in Japan) eventually culminated with an acquisition by Sonic Solutions in February 2001.

From 2001 to 2008 I was Chief of DVD Technology and General Manager of the Advanced Technology Group at Sonic. I started my group with 9 people and built it to 120 people generating $20 million in revenue. We developed core CD/DVD/BD technology, including Sonic AuthorScript, the engine that powers Sonic and Roxio applications as well as software from companies such as Adobe, AOL, Avid, Google, Microsoft, and Sony. We also adapted AuthorScript for CE and automotive platforms, powering products from BMW, Broadcom, Pioneer, Samsung, ST Micro, TI, and many others. I conceived and championed Qflix, the CSS recording technology that makes it possible for consumers to legally download and burn DVDs.

At the beginning of 2008 I added the role of Chief Technologist at Sonic, handling strategy and technical coordination across the company. After acquiring CinemaNow at the end of 2008 we merged Sonic's Advanced Technology division into the consumer products and professional products divisions, freeing me up to focus more on technical strategy as we began the transition from physical media to online media. At the end of 2008 I initiated Sonic's participation in the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) to help develop UltraViolet, the groundbreaking digital locker system for owning movies in the cloud. I was asked to co-chair the DECE Business Working Group, where we worked out the usage models and policies. Things we take for granted today, such as family accounts, multiple simultaneous streams, and content protection, had to be laboriously negotiated with Hollywood studios. I was also a key contributor to the system design and architecture in the Technical Working Group.

In February 2011, Rovi acquired Sonic. A few months later I left to join the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) full time, where I was CTO and Head of Product Development. We launched UltraViolet in October 2011. After seven years, UltraViolet had over 30 million users with over 350 million movies and TV shows in their libraries. Some of the Hollywood studios decided to join the Disney-created Movies Anywhere service, and then decided they didn't want two different digital content ownership systems (even though rights could freely flow between the two), so UltraViolet was shut down in July 2019.

I maintain the DVD FAQ and UltraViolet FAQ, and I wrote the books DVD Demystified, Blu-ray Disc Demystified, and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About DVD, published by McGraw-Hill. I wrote for magazines and newsletters such as Widescreen Review, DVD Intelligence, and DV Report. I've written for Proceedings of the IEEE, SMPTE, Funk & Wagnalls Multimedia Encyclopedia, TechTV, and various other publications. I've taught seminars and given presentations at various conferences such as CES, DVD Pro, DVD Production, DVD Europe, New Media, and NAB.

My accomplishments include the award-winning MediaMAX software (now obsolete), the amazing Videodiscovery Web site (pretty cool stuff in 1994, but now obsolete since Videodiscovery was acquired by Discovery), the charming Rusting TARDIS Web site (totally out of date), and the award-winning Grader-Aider gradebook management program for IBM PCs and Apple II computers. My fondest accomplishments are the adorable Anneke Taylor and the cuddly Corwin Taylor.

Some of my past activities include DVD Forum and Blu-ray Disc Association working groups, CALICO executive board, the HTML Working Group and the IMA (later SPA, later SIIA) DVD Special Interest Group. When I was in high school I played the cello in the Utah Valley Youth Symphony. I took it up again many years later when my daughter started playing violin. I lived in Madrid, Spain in 1973 and 1977. I lived in Taiwan from 1980-1982.

My interests include science fiction, entertainment media, high-fidelity video and audio, languages (I once spoke six of them--now I'm lucky to limp by in English), educational technology, cognitive science, gardening, and snow skiing.

In the unlikely event that you're interested, here's more information about me, including a picture of what I really look like. Or you could view a boring list of my publications, presentation, and other productions or my predictions.

The furry guy with Xena is my brother, Steve.

Jim Taylor
30 Jun 2023