The decade of SuperMemo

Krzysztof Biedalak, December 16, 1999

This open letter was sent by Krzysztof Biedalak to the jury of the Product of the Decade competition organized by PC Kurier, Poland, in December 1999 upon the nomination of SuperMemo to the title among three other Polish software products

Dear Members of the Jury,

I would like to thank you again for your appreciation of our technology and product SuperMemo in your nomination to the title of the Product of the Decade. In this letter I would like to summarize the strengths of SuperMemo technology in the decade's perspective hoping to emphasize our conviction that the name SuperMemo will not sound hollow ten years from now:

  1. SuperMemo has pioneered a number of learning technologies such as:
    • repetitions spacing (1987): computing optimum intervals between repetitions (the repetition spacing algorithm itself is customizable as of 1998)
    • forgetting index in repetition spacing (1991): possibility to select the probability of recall in learning
    • mnemonic hypermedia (1995): the extension of mind maps to the hypertext paradigm that still remains to be fully explored
    • processing attributes (1995-1999): attributes such as memorized, pending, dismissed, task, extract, etc. that help the user determine the flow of information in the learning process
    • reading lists (1999): tools for prioritizing and processing articles in electronic form; including cloze deletion processing tools
  2. SuperMemo has integrated all these technologies in one tool (SuperMemo 99) with a large number of specialist options that make it, in our opinion, by far the most powerful self-learning tool available on the market worldwide. There are a few rudimentary competitors to SuperMemo in the repetition spacing area (e.g. British Total Recall or Russian ByHeart) but none has integrated a fraction of learning technologies available in SuperMemo
  3. Popularity of SuperMemo is increasing rapidly. In 1999 two important milestones have been passed: one millionth SuperMemo CD-ROM has been released and the overall sales of SuperMemo to end users have passed $2 million mark. SuperMemo World has grown regularly since its first profitable year (1992) by 50-100% per annum on its own bootstraps, i.e. without injections of venture capital from Poland or abroad. Among companies releasing their own content with SuperMemo are well-known publishers such as: Prentice Hall, Macmillan, PWN Scientific Publishers, Amercom Ltd., Vulcan Media, Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pegagogiczne, Grupa Image, and more
  4. Thanks to the Internet, SuperMemo is currently being sold to over 100 countries in the world. For example: Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Andorra, Monaco, Iran, Saudi Arabia (no ISPs yet in 1998), Kuwait, Guatemala, Colombia, etc.
  5. The Internet appears to be the strongest weapon in our marketing efforts ever and we hope the next decade will dramatically overshadow our present accomplishments. The sales of SuperMemo products via the Internet increased from 0.5% of direct SuperMemo World's sales in 1997, to 10% in 1998, to 18% in 1999, and make up the fastest growing component of our activity. Although, still about 50% of these sales reach the USA, and another 40% Western Europe, the proportion of less developed countries is increasing
  6. SuperMemo has received multiple awards including PC Kurier's Product of the Year 1997, Gold Medals at Infosystem and Softarg, finalist of Software for Europe, Reader's Choice from PC World Komputer (twice), etc.
  7. SuperMemo is still the only software from Poland reviewed in Byte (twice in 1993 and 1995), German Chip (1995) and recently listed by the New York Times among neurobics sites (along with Mind Manager and ThinkFast)(1999)
  8. Mutations of SuperMemo have been developed for a number of platforms:
    • commercial: Windows, DOS, Windows CE, and PalmPilot
    • former commercial: Amiga and Mac
    • former freeware: Atari XL and Atari ST
    • research versions: Java (two independent projects at SuperMemo World, and at the University of Technology in Poznan)
    • custom versions developed by partners of SuperMemo World (e.g. school tests released by Vulcan Media and PWN)

    Currently, SuperMemo World is in talks with in reference to developing the ultimate learning on-line tool based on SuperMemo technologies

  9. Many prominent politicians, parliamentarians and scientist in Poland and abroad belong to the family of users of SuperMemo. Those include twice Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak and his three children. SuperMemo has also reached Microsoft, Symantec,, Lernout & Hauspie, IMF, Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young, and the US Army
  10. We run a number of research projects that would show the future ways towards conquering academic and school environments (e.g. site license for the prestigious SGH School of Economics in Warsaw provides all students of this university with free access to SuperMemo and a growing collection of freeware learning material written specifically for school's purposes)

Thanking you again for your attention and the very obliging nomination, I remain sincerely yours

Krzysztof Biedalak, CEO
SuperMemo World, 1999