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  1. Technology
November 29, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

On to $5,000m – rather like someone that can’t keep anything down, just when you think the surge in Netscape Communications Corp shares has run its course, up they go again: yesterday they surged $15.75 to $126.75 (for a market capitalisation of $4,851m) after Goldman Sachs added the company to its recommended list, only two weeks after it took Microsoft Corp off the list; Goldman analyst Rick Sherlund, with a long-time record of backing it, had downgraded Microsoft due to its perceived lack of an Internet strategy; Spyglass Inc jumped $9.25 to $95.75 in sympathy.

IBM Corp is close to throwing in the towel and abandoning OS/2 for PowerPC, US PC Week is reporting.

Bertelsmann AG formally launched its AOL on-line services joint venture with America Online Inc, aiming for a million European subscribers by the year 2000: We already have over 11,500 subscribers and are getting 1,000 calls a week from prospective customers, chief executive Bernd Schiphorst said; AOL plans to expand the service to the UK in January and to France in March following field testing; the start-up investment comes to $210m; it costs $6.90 monthly including two hours’ free usage, with every further minute costing seven cents.

IBM Corp is not saving up for a monster acquisition – it has decided to spend another $2,500m of its growing cash pile buying back its shares on the open market from time to time, depending on conditions.

Apple Computer Inc has launched the Apple Chinese Dictation Kit, a speech dictation system that converts Mandarin speech into simplified or traditional Chinese text: the system requires no additional hardware to operate on a Power Macintosh, and consists of the Apple Chinese Dictation Kit software and the Dictation Microphone; customers teach the system to recognise their voices by reading several pages of text into the box.

Amstrad Plc told the annual meeting warns that overall results for this year will be significantly weighted towards the second half largely due to the late start of its Dancall cellular telephone products: chairman Alan Sugar said that Dancall’s GSM/PCN mobile products had gone into production four months late and that first half performance is below expectations – but the outlook for the full year is a significant positive contribution.

European Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert was quite unmoved by the howls of anguish of telecommunications ministers and will invoke the dictatorial powers granted to him under the Treaty of Rome to open the telecommunications markets to competition: the text will oblige countries to move next month to allow alternative networks such as utilities or railways to compete with the traditional monopolies to offer some telecommunications services; Britain, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden issued a declaration calling for even faster liberalisation, but other countries led by Spain complained that the Commission was overstepping its authority.

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Novato, California-based Time Line Solutions Corp is a new company dedicated to project management software for Windows personal computers, formed by a management buyout from Symantec Corp, which established it as a subsidiary in April because it is outside Symantec’s core product areas; terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Netscape Communications Corp has gone to Santa Barbara, California-based Inc for its Post.Office secure server-based electronic mail package and launched it as Netscape Mail Server at an introductory $500 for Windows NT and Solaris this quarter and for other Unixes starting next quarter.

IBM Corp will install RS/6000s to deliver real-time price and market information to the trading floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange; the contract value was not given; once the project is completed in 1996, each of eight trading posts will have two RS/6000 Model R24s feeding four RS/6000 Model 380s; each Model 380 will serve 50 to 75 terminals providing market data and information to overhead screens.

Ta ta Telecom Ltd signed a marketing agreement with Harris Corp to puruse opportunities in the Indian telecommunications market: the agreement extends Tata’s existing distributor status, and it is now free to provide comprehensive engineering services to support Harris Farinon’s line of point-to-point digital microwave family, it said.

Milpitas, California-based OEM services supplier Solectron Corp has completed its acquisition of Hewlett-Packard GmbH’s printed circuit assembly operation in Bblingen, Germany: terms were not disclosed.

So just how good is the Nintendo Co Ltd Ultra 64? We’ve been doing special effects work for movies on $250,000 Silicon Graphics Inc workstations, Brad Hunt, chief operating officer of Angel Studios Inc, Carlsbad, California tells the Dow Jones & Co news wire: The Ultra 64 appears almost exactly the same.

McDonnell Information Systems Plc has finally found a successor as chief executive to the much-maligned Jerry Causley, who resigned in August (CI No 2,729): John Klein has been drafted in from the company’s US operation, where he has been on the board since June; before that he was at Digital Equipment Corp, having spent the first 25 years of his career at IBM Corp.

Unisys Corp, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, has won a services contract valued at more than $18m from Girobank, the UK post office bank owned by the Alliance & Leicester Building Society, itself one of Unisys’ biggest mainframe customers in the UK: under the agreement, Unisys will handle all in-clearing for Girobank until the year 2000 through its Unisys Payment Services Ltd subsidiary, located near Tower Bridge in London; Payment Services will process more than 75m cheques annually for Girobank, using Unisys InfoImage Item Processing System; using the Unisys system, Girobank, which uses the UK post offices to handle its business instead of having branches, is one of the first British banks to install high-speed imaging kit for account processing, including account entry, account debiting and balancing.

AT&T Corp will launch on December 1 a three-year programme offering low-income customers their first hour of long distance service each month at 15% below the standard rate of October 15 1995, and it is also expanding its plan for low-volume long-distance users: the programme offers 20 cent per minute interstate calling for 3 cents with additional minutes at a quarter during peak hours, 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, 15 cents at other times; the plans are a commitment AT&T made earlier this year as part of efforts to gets its dominant carrier status removed at the Federal Communications Commission (CI No 2,770; dominant carrier status means that AT&T must post early notice with the Commission of new plans or price changes, giving competitors plenty of time to react.

Westinghouse Electric Corp completed its $5,400m purchase of CBS Inc.

If an IBMer tells you with chagrin I’ve been surpliced it doesn’t mean that he or she has been inducted into the church choir, and it should be spelled surplussed – it’s just IBMspeak for laid off.

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