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Technology / AI and automation


The concept of viewdata or videotex has turned full circle in the US, and where the basic idea pioneered in the UK and taken up with alacrity in France of attaching a TV or very simple dedicated terminal to the phone line was quickly superseded by a move to make the personal computer the preferred information receiver, viewdata systems directed to cheap, dedicated terminals are back in favour. Microbytes reports that the Guinness Videophone Telecommunications Educational Network, based in Mill Valley, California, plans to go on line in two months. Guinness is the second such system proposing to shun complicated personal computer connections; the US Videotel system, planned for Houston, will use a version of the French Minitel terminal. The Guinness system will go right back to basics by using the very first North American telephone terminal, the DisplayPhone, an 8085-based telephone with a 9 screen that was launched by Northern Telecom as long ago as 1981. The Guinness system will lease terminals to subscribers for $10 a month in the be-lief that customers will take better care of the terminals if they have to pay for them; if we gavethem away, people would trash them, is the line. The DisplayPhone provides an 80-column screen and keyboard but has no available computing power. The first services available on the Guinness system will be Yellow and White pages telephone directory information. White pages information will be available by name, classification, and address. Information providers can place their products on line. Accessing the information placed by third parties will cost 10 cents per minute, with half going to the provider. Guinness also plans an educational network that will include tutorial-like programs. Other planned services include a CB simulator bulletin board system and a community news forum.

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