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  1. Technology
September 13, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Our man on the Hitachi Ltd beat in New York still hasn’t got an update on his all-to-exclusive that IBM Corp supposedly plans to take Hitachi’s Skyline monolithic mainframe OEM, but he does hear that Hitachi Data is budgeting to deliver 10 of the Skylines by the end of 1995.

Digital Equipment Corp has dismissed the head of its peripherals unit as it continues its effort to focus on its core businesses and boost revenue: Larry Cabrinety, 64 and an 11-year veteran of DEC, says he was told to leave late last month following disagreements with senior m anagement over decisions on his unit’s future, and he is so unhappy that he has hired a lawyer to review his options, Dow Jones & Co reports; in mid-August his vice-president in charge of world-wide marketing for the unit was also fired; the components and peripherals unit represents more than $1,000m in annual revenue, but many of the products in the unit are outside DEC’s core areas of growth or profits, industry analysts said; the terminals business has now been sold and the main remaining product lines are printers, products for industrial process control, and Multia, the new desktop line enabling users to employ multiple operating systems simultaneously; Cabrinety is unhappy in part because several product lines were transferred to other divisions while he had to retain their overheads.

Santa Clara-based National Semiconductor Corp is the new billet of IBM Corp alumna Ellen Hancock: Ms Hancock has joined the chipmaker as an executive vice-president and one of three chief operating officers.

Novell Inc and energy company UtiliCorp will announce a partnership today that will enable UtiliCorp customers to manage their energy ussage better and save money, Reuter reports: Bob Frankenberg, Novell’s chief executive and Richard Green Jr, chief executive of UtiliCorp are expected to announce the partnership in Washington, DC; it is based on the NetWare Embedded Systems Technology, and UtiliCorp customers will get a device connected to a water heater, for example, that would cause the heater to use energy during low demand periods; the technology, which supports two-way data transmission through electric cables, would also be used to diagnose problems in appliances.

Did you know that 5% of the Hewlett-Packard Co’s workforce, or 4,910 employees, work from home?

Toshiba Corp says it has yet to decide if it will accept Sony Corp’s compromise proposal for a standard for digital video disks: although Toshiba was told by IBM Corp that IBM supports Sony’s compromise plan, Toshiba will need more time before deciding its move; Sony’s compromise proposal suggests that firms use the double-sided format error correction protocol developed by the Toshiba camp and Sony’s signal modulation protocol.

America Online Inc, Vienna, Virginia is to acquire Ubique Ltd, an Israeli company based in Rehovot that offers real-time interaction and joint navigation for the Internet: Ubique’s owners will receive about $14.5m for the company, $13.2m in America Online shares.

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Making itself even more vulnerable to that Racal Electronics Plc bid, Cray Electronics Holdings Plc warns that it expects additional first half restructuring costs from stock writedowns and redundancies due to further restructuring of its Cray Communications unit: progress in restoring satisfactory profitability at Cray Communications has been slower than is acceptable to the board, said chairman Roger Holland and the company will rationalise its product lines in the UK and Denmark at an accelerated rate and speed up transition to new development technologies; Holland tells shareholders that for the group as a whole, order rates and turnover for the first quarter of the current year are ahead of last year.

Wakebourne Plc warns that first half results, due for release in late October, will show a loss after exceptional items and it does not intend to pay a dividend for the current year: exceptional items relating to an aborted acquisition, severance payments and

other items would mean a pre-tax loss of around ú350,000 for the first six months of the year; it has been trading profitably since the start of the second half and has appointed Paul King, formerly with Touche Ross, as its new finance director after the May departure of the previous one.

Cable & Wireless Plc shook up its board and top management so that James Ross becomes deputy chairman and chief executive, and Peter Howell-Davies, currently deputy chief executive of Hong Kong Telecommunications Ltd as chief executive of Mercury Communications Ltd after the resignation of Duncan Lewis.

Richardson, Texas-based Cyrix Corp flatly denied that it is the target of a takeover – but no-one was sure to what gossip it was responding.

Irvine, California-based disk drive maker Western Digital Corp has told analysts its first quarter earnings could fall below the lower end of their forecasts by as much as $0.05 per share, citing pricing pressures and delays in design wins by its microcomputer products group: analysts have cut their fiscal year estimates to $2.20 to $2.40 a share, from $2.40 to $3.00, resulting in a slide in the price of Western Digital’s shares of almost 13%; stocks of other disk drive makers, including Read-Rite Corp, Quantum Corp, Seagate Technology Inc and Komag Inc also fell after Western Digital’s annoucement; the company said gross margins are being hit by lower prices on its 1.6Gb hard disk drives, which it is discounting to entice users to trade up, and by a shortfall in its predicted original-equipment manufacturer design wins for its PC-SCSI host adapters.

AST Research Inc, Irvine, California-based personal computer manufacturer, warns it expects to see a loss in the first quarter of 1996 greater than the $40m it lost in the comparable period last year, and three of its senior executives including its president, have resign ed as a result: the company said the changes to its internal operations may also result in extra charges being recorded during the first fiscal quarter, adding to the expected net loss; the company expects revenues to be flat or slightly lower than those for the first quarter of fiscal year 1995.

Dallas, Texas-based Texas Instruments Inc, aiming at the growing retail market for notebook computers, has introduced the Extensa family with prices starting at $1,800 for a 75MHz 80846DX4 model, and a design that enables key components to be swapped: top of the new range, which is targeted at the lower end of the consumer market, is an Intel Corp 75MHz Pentium unit with colour monitor for $3,600; until now, Texas Instruments has sold only high-powered notebooks costing $5,000 or more; the new machines are Texas’s first since it hired a former exe cutive of Toshiba Corp’s US portable computer operations and the man credited with putting the Japanese company top of the tree, May this year, and the company says it hopes to compete head-on with Toshiba with these new low prices.

The Common IBM Corp user groups gathering in Chicago generated some unwarranted hilarity when the chairman (no talking chairs around here) welcomed the delegation from the Japanese AS/400 user group: trouble is, it’s called i-SUC.

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