A multimedia interface presents information and receives user commands for a computer system. The multimedia interface operates in parallel with another application software module, such as an expert system. To add multimedia features to the application software module, the module is modified so as to generate multimedia commands at the same time as it displays text on a text monitor. The multimedia commands, which are held in a queue, provide additional information in the form of video images and generated speech corresponding to the displayed text. In addition, the multimedia commands are split into at least two sets: one set which is dispatched to the user substantially immediately after displaying the corresponding text, and one set which is dispatched only upon request by the user. In the preferred embodiment, the multimedia interface presents information to the user through text, graphics, video speech production, and printed output. User inputs are made through a special-function keypad and voice recognition. The preferred embodiment is a portable expert system which fits in a single portable suitcase sized package.