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November 9, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

In the wake of both Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy’s seductive proclamations that Oracle Corp and Sun Microsystems Inc will manufacture Internet access network computers that can carry out the basic functions of a personal computer but cost under $500, Acorn Computer Group Plc’s Applied RISC Technologies division appears to be first to the post with a product. Acorn has announced NetSurfer, an ARM RISC-based box that doesn’t have a hard or floppy drive but relies on a 14.4Kbps internal modem to download software from the Internet. The machine has 4Mb of ROM in which Acorn’s proprietary windowing operating system runs. The Web browser runs in 2Mb of RAM. Acorn is targeting the machine at the fireside market. Users plug one cable into their television set, which then doubles as a computer screen and another into the telephone jack. The company said that it is looking at a number of licensing deals for the technology as well as a US partner to launch the product across the pond next year. The next generation of products will run Sun’s HotJava Web browser so users will be able to download applets written in Java. It will also have an infra-red keyboard so that users won’t have to ruin their eyes sitting right up close to the television screen, said Peter Bondar, managing director of Applied RISC Technologies Ltd. It will also hook up to a set-top box for video-on-demand applications, he added. NetSurfer will ship in the UK next year for $300.

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