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  1. Technology
April 3, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

Drexler Technology Corp, the Mountain View,California originator of the tape-covered optical memory card and designer of related device driver software and optical card-based workstations, has taken a big step forward in establishing its unique data storage cards as a standard. A group of eight European and Japanese companies, led by representatives from British Telecom, Olivetti and the Swiss group OFAC, has finally established a European Standard for optical memory cards and devices which is based upon specifications derived from the LaserCard optical memory card manufactured by Drexler. This announcement follows an 18-month effort to find a standard, which ended recently at a meeting in Milan, Italy, where the group decided to distribute the agreed standards documentation for use throughout Europe. These standards for plastic, credit card sized, laser-recordable optical memory cards include such information as data formatting, as well as physical characteristics and details such as track pitch, track guide width, fiduciary marks, reference tracks, track numbering, and so on. The user data capacity was set at 2.86Mb. The standards were compiled by a working party of the Drexler European Licensees Association, which has representatives from British Telecommunications, Ing C. Olivetti & Co, British Printing & Communication Corp, Ilford Ltd, and OFAC. The Standards Working Party also included representatives from Drexler Technology Corp, Nippon Conlux Co Ltd, Olympus Optical Co Ltd and Omron Tateisi Electronics Co. Following informal meetings in 1987, a discussion paper was published by the Licensees Association in February of 1988 which called for the standardisation of optical memory cards and related devices. The objective of creating standards would be to replace the present situation where different card drives require different and incompatible card formats. Under the just-issued standards, a single card format would be used with all card drives that are made to the Association’s standard. This would provide manufacturers with a more uniform market, while assuring application developers and customers that there is compatibility among systems. The applications for optical memory cards which such standards would further open up include personal medical records, ID/security access cards, the distribution of technical documentation, and the accumulation of consumer-related data. According to the Association, the standards are intended as a philanthropic public document to encourage manufacturers and customers to adopt a common approach to optical memory card systems. Standards are deemed essential by the group, yet official national and international bodies have not yet produced such standards. Meanwhile, the Association’s working party has seized the opportunity to set up international representation and develop its standard in order to speed up its penetration of the emerging market.

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