Most businesses aren't the size of Time-Warner, but even a small business has to find ways of communicating, both internally and with the outside world. Why not use the same technology big corporations have started to use -- interactive computer disks? Using his or her own PC, the disk's recipient manipulates prepackaged data, responding to the queries or selections (such as a multiple-choice quiz) offered on the display. The computer responds to a correct or incorrect answer with an animated cartoon or some other visual device.

Although so far businesses have used interactive disks to boost corporate images or espouse causes (such as a campaign against software piracy), Time magazine recently contracted with one production service to prepare its entire 28-page (in print) rate card on an interactive disk.

With devices like that, business-to-business links are coming of electronic age. Manipulating Time's disk, a prospective advertiser would get to juggle such factors as size, position, region, and frequency to calculate a final cost for advertising. And interactive presentations could lead customers through, say, the variables of pricing, parts, lease/purchase arrangements, delivery schedules, and other relationships that ordinarily would be printed in complicated tables. A company could even commit its employee handbook -- giving information on incentive awards, cafeteria options, pension funding, and so forth -- to disk.

A custom interactive disk is as competitively priced as a comparable printed brochure, says Micro Interactive's Steve Baum, whose company claims to be able to create one for as little as $2,500, not including the cost of disk manufacture. Among a rapidly growing number of interactive-disk producers: Micro Interactive (212-366-1391), the SoftAd Group (415-332-4704), and Zelos (415-788-0566). -- Robert A. Mamis