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November 3, 1995

MINIGRAMS

By CBR Staff Writer

The way in which Intel Corp’s Pentium Pro stumbles and blunders around when confronted with 16-bit code gives IBM Corp another opportunity to make a convincing case for OS/2 Warp, which is 32-bit through and through, in contrast to Windows95, which is heavily adulterated with 16-bit code: IBM has been doing a bit of benchmarking on multimedia applications that run under OS/2 and finds a 30% to 121% improvement on a 150MHz Pro compared with a 133MHz Pentium – and no, only 13% is down to clock speed.

The Enertel Dutch consortium of nine regional power companies has now decided to go it alone, and has applied again to the Dutch government for a licence to operate a second telephone network in the Netherlands: it hopes to be able to offer 70% of Dutch telephone users an alternative to Koninklijke PTT Nederland NV as soon as next year; the new application follows the break-up between the power companies and the Nederlandse Spoorwegen railway operator, and the withdrawal thereupon of BellSouth Corp; Enertel now plans to connect its optical fibre trunks to the local networks of cable television companies, and these will be responsible for making contact with clients and for providing the customer service.

Intergraph Corp is touting its first 200MHz and 150MHz Pentium Pro processor-based workstations, the TDZ family, as even more powerful than traditional RISC Unix workstations at almost half the price: they run Windows NT, feature Intergraph’s GLZ graphics boards; the TDZ-300 desktop and TDZ-400 desktop or deskside, with single and dual 150-MHz Pentium Pro processor, are shipping now at from $10,000.

IBM Corp is in there in the Pentium Pro rush with a 150MHz model in the PC 300 family for December that will cost $5,262 with 1.2Gb disk, 16Mb memory, a hex speed CD ROM and OS/2 Warp Connect plus 15 colour monitor with a viewable image size of 13.4, via IBM’s PC Direct arm.

Dell Computer Corp has now agreed to drop the patent claims affecting personal computers using the VESA VL bus, the US Federal Trade Commission announced, saying the decision stems from a settlement by Dell of charges made by the agency that Dell restricted competition in the personal computer industry and undermined the standard-setting process by threatening to exercise undisclosed patent rights against companies that adopted the VL-bus.

Toshiba Corp is to launch its Digital Video Disk players first in the US, starting next September but the Japanese and European launches will follow in time for Christmas 1996: the players will be priced in the US at $600 to $700 and DVD-ROM drives for computers at $250 to $300; Toshiba will make the players in Japan and the Philippines, with monthly production estimated at 300,000 players, the company said.

It sounds as if this is part of the venture to design and make PowerPC-based machines in China for Asia (CI No 2,784), but that is not made clear: Motorola Inc is to sponsor a joint product development laboratory in Peking with China’s State Science & Technology Commission according to Reuter, which says that Motorola will hold a 50% stake in the project to research and develop advanced computer technology based on Motorola’s chips; it will also research localising technology for the Chinese language market, but it will establish a second research centre, the Asia Manufacturing Research Centre, to support local product design and manufacturing work.

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Nortech Systems Inc is to buy the assets of Cray Research Inc’s Machining Center in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, which produces high-tolerance machined parts for computers; the terms were not disclosed.

Troubled Mobile, Alabama-based laser printer maker QMS Inc will take a fourth-quarter charge to cover restructuring and other expenses from its recent workforce reduction and sale of European operations and said results will also reflect proceeds from the sale of part of its consumables business to IIMAK: QMS said it is near closing on a $30m refinancing deal covering its short-term debt and that it will report fourth quarter results once that is finalised; further debt reductions should follow the proposed sales of its Japanese operations and circuit board manufacturing facility QMS Circuits.

Integrated circuit exports by South Korea’s three biggest fabricators, Samsung Electronics Co, Hyundai Electronics Industries Co and LG Semicon Co are forecast to reach $13,800m this year, about 66.3% more than the $8,300m they did in 1994, with exports for the first 10 months totalling $10,700m: the figures were significantly up on last year and the three companies expect them to keep rising through 1996.

The Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce said Guelph, Ontario will become the first city in North America to test the Mondex Smart Card electronic cash system, currently on trial in the UK in Swindon, Wiltshire (CI No 2,705): the one-year pilot will begin in second half of 1996: the Bell Canada Inc subsidiary of BCE Inc is also involved in the work.

Fujitsu Ltd has updated its fast-selling FMV series desktop computer line with 20 new models in six types with enhanced networking functions: they use Pentiums clocked at 75MHz to 133MHz and come preloaded with Microsoft Corp’s Windows95; Fujitsu hopes the 5100D5 model with 100MHz Pentium and 1Gb disk at $2,000 will wow the Japanese punters as bargain of the year.

French government officials are indicating that they hope to convert France Telecom to a corporation from a state entity next year.

Nintendo Co Ltd said it and Netscape Communications Corp will launch an Internet service at the end of next year, initially in Japan only, enabling users of 64-bit Nintendo game machines to rewrite its game software, changing things such as storylines and characters when attached to the Internet: the company said pricing for the service has not yet been decided; Nintendo also plans to show its 64-bit player, the Ultra 64, to the public on November 24 but set no availability date; the Ultra 64 will be priced at $250, it said.

Dallas, Texas-based Camelot Corp has bought speech telephony software for Apple Computer Inc’s Macintosh computers for use on the Internet from New Paradigm Software Corp for $750,000, with $350,000 payable in Camelot restricted shares valued at $5.1875 a share and the balance in cash: New Paradigm will also receive a royalty of $1.00 per unit and 10% of the OEM revenues Camelot manages to earn from the software, the firm said.

San Francisco, California-based Macromedia Inc and Sun Microsystems Inc plan to build and maintain open standards for graphics and multimedia on the Internet and will work together to incorporate support for Java applets in authorware and director software and define multimedia class libraries for inclusion in future versions of Java; separately, Macromedia, Netscape Communications Corp and other developers demonstrated Shockwave for director, an Internet publishing capability for director that enables users to deliver plug-in interactive multimedia components in Netscape Navigator release 2.0.

Acer Inc said profit for the first three quarters of this year was equivalent to a record $129.4m, up 66% from a year earlier on turnover up 81% to $1,490m and the Acer Group, which includes Acer Peripherals Inc and Texas Instruments-Acer Inc reported net profit up 77% at $240m on sales up 75% to $3,741m in the nine-month period: the Taiwanese attributed the profit growth to exports of high-end products.

Apple Computer Inc cut the price of its Apple Remote Access MultiPort Server version 2.0 by 15% to $1,100 from $1,300 in the US: Apple Remote Access MultiPort Server provides remote network access to workgroups or entire organisations; it includes a four-port remote access serial card and cable, and needs a Mac with one or more NuBus slots.

The US Federal Communications Commission has received 167 applications for this month’s airwaves auction of licences for mobile phones, paging and messaging services beginning November 28 (CI No 2,775): it is offering 1,020 licences to provide Specialised Mobile Radio services in the 896MHz to 901MHz and in the 935MHz to 940MHz bands.

Methuen, Massachusetts-based MicroTouch Systems Inc expects improved revenue growth in Europe in 1996, particularly in France and Germany where it has new sales offices and expects increased volume in its new generation of touchscreens using resistive technology: MicroTouch said it sees excellent potential to penetrate the point of sale and medical markets although it had earlier reported third quarter earnings down to $0.08 a share from $0.22 in the same period last year.

The Raleigh, North Carolina-based Fujitsu Network Switching of America Inc unit of Fujitsu Ltd and Bay Networks Inc have formed a joint development and marketing alliance, under which Fujitsu will market, install and support Bay Networks’ Broadband Network Access Switch with its own FETEX-150 ESP Series Asynchronous Transfer Mode switch; the companies will jointly develop interoperable end-to-end switching and network management products.

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