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  1. Technology
November 30, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

AT&T Corp’s Global Information Solutions, which is shutting down its own personal computer business, has named Intel Corp to be its personal computer supplier: the machines will be available for ordering in January, the firm said.

Intel Corp has been granted land use rights in Shanghai and will build an assembly and test factory there, for completion in 1997: it already has chip assembly and test plants in Penang, Malaysia and Manila, Philippines; Shanghai officials will recommend Pentium processors for personal computers.

Shares in Pixar Animation Studios Inc began trading with strong gains, soaring $27.25 to $49.25 after opening at 47: as reported in page seven, the 6m share initial offer was priced at $22 a share.

The European Commission will not ask European Community governments to create a telecommunications regulatory body when they consider treaty reforms next year because of national sensitivities, Communications Commissioner Martin Bangemann said, declaring that the time was not ripe because national governments were wary of efforts to centralise decision-making in Brussels.

US Robotics Corp, Skokie, Illinois plans to establish a major operation in the Chicago suburnb of Mt Prospect: it has secured a 650,000 square foot facility on a 34-acre parcel of land under a long-term lease, with an option to purchase; the company will employ more than 1,000 existing and new employees at the facility in the first year of occupancy, with an additional 1,000 newly hired staff expected in time.

AT&T Corp and Novell Inc finally say that their service for connecting NetWare networks to the outside world is ready, and revealed that Compuserve Inc is among their new partners: the AT&T NetWare Connect Service is designed to enable companies with NetWare nets to connect them together, and to enable mobile workers to tap in via notebooks; Compuserve will make it possible for users of the new service to log on to Compuserve at a higher speed then making separate connections with a modem over a telephone line; costs of connecting each company office to the network ranges from $300 to $5,000 a month, depending on the speed and other features.

Madge Networks Inc has now completed its acquisition of Israeli company Lannet Data Communications Ltd.

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Seems there was a major order imbalance in the Windows95 world, with stores not only over-ordering but ordering too many copies on floppy, too few on CD-ROM: now, PC Week reports, despite the holiday shopping season being in full swing, software retailers have been shipping back some of their Windows95 inventory to Microsoft Corp; Merisel Inc says it has received several requests to process returns of Windows95 but would not say when or how many had been sent back.

Bill Gates is not crying about it: the chairman of Microsoft Corp told US National Public Radio that sales of Windows95 have now topped 10m units, making it the fastest-selling software program so far.

The Microsoft Corp chief executive also revealed that proceeds from his new book, The Road Ahead, would fund a project to bring classrooms on line: 22 schools will participate in the two-year project, which aims to give all students access to computers, connect them to libraries and resources, and give parents on-line access to classrooms; Bill Gates said Microsoft was developing software, called the Parent-Teacher Connection Server, to be offered free to all US schools, to enable students go out on the Internet for information and publish their own home pages on the World Wide Web.

Sounds as if it expects kiddiewinkers to be opening their stockings and trying to load Windows95 real early on Christmas day: Microsoft Corp says that its standard no-charge technical-support hours in the US for Home products and Windows95 will be operational from 7am to 3pm on Christmas Day, and the same hours on New Year’s Day too.

The US Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules that ease restrictions on foreign investment in US telecommunications companies where the investor is domiciled in a country whose market is deemed to be open: the new rules mean that British Telecommunications Plc would be free to raise its stake in MCI Communications Corp from the present 20% if it wanted.

Long-distance phone company Energis Ltd, owned by the National Grid Co Plc, named Mike Grabiner, British Telecommunications Plc’s current director of European operations, as its new chief executive: Energis’s former chief executive David Dey resigned from the company in July.

System Software Associates Inc points out that the litigation initiated by Owens-Illinois Inc of Toledo (CI No 2,802) has nothing to do with the Chicago company’s emerging Unix product line, but concerns implementation of BPCS on the IBM Corp AS/400 only – something that System Software has done for thousands of other customers; it says that although the contract also called for System Software to use its best efforts to deliver a Sybase version in the future, no Sybase version was ever delivered to Owens-Illinois, as Owens-Illinois repudiated the contract before the planned delivery date, and System Software emphatically denies misrepresentations by it with respect to the Owens-Illinois contract, which is why it has responded to the Owens-Illinois suit with a countersuit of its own – but the clarification comes too late to save System Software from a class action alleging violations of securities laws based primarily on the allegations of Owens-Illinois in its suit against System Software – the latter robustly characterises the class action as merely another example of class action attorneys filing reckless kneejerk lawsuits whenever there is a drop in the share price of a successful high-technology company; it is also investigating several of the sources of false rumours and intends to pursue vigorously its legal remedies against those persons responsible for them, it declares.

Buying in shares benefits shareholders because it spreads earnings per share over fewer shares, tending to harden the share price, but if IBM Corp has money to burn, why does it not raise its dividend back to $4.84 a share from the $1 to which it was cut – a move that would cost it only $2,200m of the $2,500m it plans to spend on its shares? The answer is that it does not want to get locked in to paying a high dividend again, and once more face the embarrassment of having to borrow for the payout.

Naperville, Illinois-based Spyglass Inc’s shares are so close to the stratosphere that it is to split them two-for-one: the Spyglass shares traded up $9.375 to $95.875.

Norwood, Massachusetts-based firmware supplier Phoenix Technologies Ltd has a multi-year strategic agreement with Hewlett-Packard Co to provide system-enabling software for the next generation of Hewlett hand-held computers; the machines use iAPX-86 family processors, and the two companies say they will work closely with on key product development projects in the hand held information products market.

Toshiba Corp will increase its semiconductor output to $10,000m in the year to March 1996, up from an earlier estimate of $9,608m, due to strong demand for memory chips for personal computers, it said: 1994-94 chip production was worth $8,420m; output of 16M-bit dynamic RAMs will rise to 7.5m chips per month in late 1996 from the present 3.5m; world demand for dynamic RAMs is expected to rise to 780m chips in calendar 1996 from an estimated 350m in 1995, industry sources said; NEC Corp’s semiconductor production will also rise in 1995-96, to $11,580m from an earlier projected $10,400m and up from $9,212m a year earlier, the company said.

State-controlled Telecom Italia SpA signed an accord with bank services group Societa per Servizi Bancari pA to develop a payment card which can be recharged at automatic teller machines or public telephones: the Minipay electronic card will be aimed at small payments for example for newspapers, cinema and bus tickets and taxis; a trial period will start ne

xt year in Turin with 34 banks expected to participate.

The Bulgarian state-run telecommunications company BTC said L M Ericsson Telefon AB has offered licences for production of digital telecommunications equipment to a Bulgarian-Greek joint venture Bulfon AD in which Intracom, a grouping of Greek companies, holds 68% and BTC the remaining 32%: BTC said the country needs an estimated $3,000m for the development of its telecommunications in the next 15 years, and said local production of part of the digital equipment and its direct economic effect were totalled hundreds of millions of dollars; Bulfon goals involve building a digital cellular network, digitising the Sofia region’s network and installing and operating a nationwide phone card system, it said.

The telecommunications companies of the Baltic state of Latvia and neighbour Belarus are to build a digital fibre optic connection to link their telephone networks, Latvian company Lattelekom said: the company, in which Cable & Wireless Plc has a big stake, said the new link would greatly improve the quality of telecommunications between the two states – these are currently routed through 120 analogue channels and have to go the pretty way via Lithuania and Russia.

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