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  1. Technology
December 1, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

Evolutionary Technologies Inc, the first company to spin off from the Austin, Texas-based Microelectronics & Computer Technology Corp pre-competitive research co-operative, has announced Extract, a range of data conversion products to be made available commercially from the second quarter next year (CI No 1,805). Evolutionary spun off from the development group in February, as it wanted to bring its product to market, a move that wasn’t part of the research consortium’s strategy. Katherine Hammer, Evolutionary’s chief executive, says the research group was the only place where Extract could have been born, in close collaboration with industrial users, who shared the costs and risks associated with technology research. But, to ensure the product was made available to the masses, Evolutionary had to spin off on its own, although the Technology Corp retains an equity interest in the company. The Extract product range will first comprise a data conversion toolkit, which is aimed at combatting the problem faced by most organisations, of having constantly to rewrite data translation programs to ship data from one incompatible computing environment to another. Extract works by automatically generating the programs needed for this process. Information regarding the various data systems employed in an organisation is held in record for the system’s reference, so that non-technical users simply have to use Extract’s point-and-click tools to specify a conversion task; the translation program is then generated automatically to retrieve or move the data as specified. The Data Conversion Tool enables conversions involving selective retrieves, bi-directional movement of data, and merging data from multiple sources. Once a data access system has been defined, Evolutionary claims, specifying an actual data conversion task takes about half an hour, because the programming task is done only once, when defining the data system to Extract. Once that is done, no further programming is required to move data freely among the systems that are known to the tool. The shareholders of the Microelectronics research consortium, now eight years old and sponsored by the likes of DARPA, NASA and the US Department of Defense, are Advanced Micro Devices Inc, Andersen Consulting, Bell Communications Research, Boeing Co, Cadence Design Systems Inc, Control Data Corp (responsible for having the idea of the group in the first place), Digital Equipment Corp, Eastman Kodak Co, General Electric Co, Harris Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co, Honeywell Inc, Hughes Aircraft Co, Lockheed Corp, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co, Martin Marietta Corp, National Semiconductor Corp, NCR Corp, Northern Telecom Ltd, Rockwell International Corp and Westinghouse Electric Corp. Associate members include Apple Computer Inc, AT&T Co, Compaq Computer Corp, Microsoft Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc, Tandem Computers Inc and Texas Instruments Inc. Current research programmes include the Distributed Intelligent Information Systems project, looking into neural networks and the development of a large common sense knowledge base, for use for example in multimedia applications; High Value Electronics, exploring the area of electronics design and manufacturing; and Enterprise Integration, researching future commercial information infrastructures; Computer Physics, delving into superconductivity and optics. The research consortium, which has 400 staff, has a budget of UKP55m for the current year. Corporate Memory Systems Inc is another company since spun off from the research co-op: it markets software that captures an historical trace of operational decisions for the electric power industry. – Sue Norris

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