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November 22, 1995

MATSUSHITA ADDS INTERNET FAXES FOR DUMMIES

By CBR Staff Writer

The jury may still be out on whether there is a real market in the US and Europe for a cheap Internet access terminal, but a new service launched in Japan by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co strongly suggests that such a thing would be a winner in Japan. Matsushita has devised the most cack-handed means of finding anything on the Internet imaginable, rather like using a barn door as a surf board and surfing with clogs on. Described as being for those who want to hook into the Internet but are hopeless at computers, the system uses the klunky old facsimile machine (rather more attractive in Japan where the written word is ideogrammatic than in places that use an alphabet) to make the process as easy as making a telephone call. With the system, users can get an index via a facsimile machine and choose Internet subjects they are interested in by keying in numbers on their touch-tone telephones. The telephone and fax machine are connected to servers that process the commands for onward transmission to the chosen Web site. Information comes back as sound over the telephone handset or as printed text off the facsimile machine. Matsushita plans to start marketing the system in Japan early next year, targeting companies and local authorities that plan to offer information to the public over the Internet.

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