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  1. Technology
October 23, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

The CD-Online unit of Philips Electronics NV will be launching a new service here in the UK on Wednesday enabling connection to the Internet via a television and telephone – the catch is that you have to have a Compact Disk-interactive player too, plus the Internet starter kit providing the modem and cable connections to connect the television, CD-i player and telephone together: the service will carry a ú20 sign-up fee and a ú12 monthly charge; the keyboard is a virtual one on-screen, operated by remote control.

The Los Angeles Times and Pacific Telesis Group Inc on Friday said they had scrapped their electronic shopping joint venture, but are not giving up on the idea – they will develop separate services: the pair formed ESS Ventures in 1994 with the aim of offering customers access to regional business and product information from a variety of systems; Pacific Telesis will now absorb a large part of ESS Ventures and apply it to its Tele-TV interactive venture with two other Bells and the Los Angeles Times, flagship newspaper of Times Mirror Co, will offer interactive news, information and advertising via the Internet.

Gridlock in the Washington legislative process is nothing to gridlock in the courts, and the Federal Communications Commission has had to postpone yet again its airwave auctions for entrepeneurs after a court challenge by Radiofone Inc, which does not like the Commission’s cellular Personal Communications Services cross-ownership rule, which limits cellular companies to 40MHz of spectrum in their cellular service areas; the rule is intended to ensure that there are at least five providers of wireless communications services in each market.

Commenting to Reuters on its figures (page seven) and matters arising, Silicon Graphics Inc says it expects its revenue growth for the full year to be greater than the 33% growth posted in the quarter just ended: chairman and chief executive Ed McCracken said high-margin workstations helped drive strong sales, adding that the company is not changing its business model, which targets gross margins within the 50.5% to 52.5% range despite higher levels in the quarter.

Bolt Beranek Newman Inc warns that it expects to report a significant operating loss for fiscal 1996, due to its substantial investment in its internetworking related activities, such as its Internet service.

It all looks far too late, but Glenview, Illinois-based Zenith Electronics Corp says the Federal Communications Commission Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service is expected to recommend next month that the Commission adopt the Grand Alliance high definition television system as the new US digital television standard.

Japan’s domestic shipments of personal computers will amount to 5.55m units in calendar 1995, up 63.6% from 1994, International Data Corp reckons, with demand growing particularly fast among households and small businesses: sales of home computers are expected to reach 1.72m, up 80.1%, for 10.7% penetration, a number forecast to reach 42.2% in 2000; Windows95 will be installed in about 1m personal computers in Japan by the end of 1995.

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Still running scared from the Sony Corp PlayStation? Sega Enterprises Ltd cut the price of its Saturn console in the UK by ú100 to ú300.

Kopin Corp chief executive John Fan says his Taunton, Massachusetts company plans to lead a resurgence in the US display market by next summer, when it expects to be producing large volumes of its tiny displays: Kopin is currently in test production of the displays, but plans to be making large volumes of the devices in Massachusetts and in factories owned by overseas partners by next summer.

Fortunately, it’s only a tiny part of the cost of the finished chip: Tokuyama Corp says the company will raise the price of silicon used for semiconductors by 20% from December to cover the costs of increasing output to meet fast-growing demand for silicon; the company plans to expand its annual silicon production capacity for wafer makers to 2,000 tonnes in 1996, and 3,000 tonnes in 1997, from 1,650 tonnes.

Video games systems developer 3DO Co says it is still negotiating with potential partners about licensing its new M2 technology and expects some deals by December.

PanAmSat Corp, Greenwich, Connecticut has won a licence to offer international satellite-based video services directly to customers in Japan from the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications, the first US and the first non-Japanese company permitted to provide satellite television services to and from Japan.

Aaaaah! IBM Pakistan Pvt Ltd says it will donate 10 rupees – 30 cents – for every coupon posted by readers of the Dawn daily to a project to save two species of turtle, the Green Turtle and the Olive Ridley Turtle, which lay their eggs on beaches near Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi: each year fewer eggs were hatching successfully, putting at risk the survival of two of the world’s seven turtle species, IBM Pakistan said in an advertisement in the Karachi paper.

I think the time is quickly coming for a new type of ‘computer,’ which probably shouldn’t be called that at all, writes Wall Street Journal personal computing columnist Walter Mossberg – this would be a no-brainer, $500 or $600 information appliance designed to do a few common tasks really well through tremendous integration of hardware and embedded software and a terrific user interface customised for the job at hand, going on to suggest that one such machine might be great for word processing and related mail activities, another for personal finance and spreadsheets: considering the same problem of absurd over-complexity as a result of criminally bloated software when we read about all the new goodies that are only in Word for Windows95 so that even people that only wanted to use their machine for power word processing had to go through the hideously expensive hardware upgrade if they wanted the new features, we decided that the ideal personal computer might have only a skinny executive, and that would be in ROM, and that the operating system would be so modularised that applications would be shipped with only the bits of the operating system that they needed, so that a 4Kb machine would go back to being quite enough for nearly all users.

In its latest effort to kick-start the economy, the Japanese government has earmarked $6,000m for the funding of telecommunications-related public works over the next six months, to be used to connect existing networks together, with more to be allocated in future years, to speed up the planned construction of a nationwide fibre-optic net.

Oh, so that makes it all right then – pleading not guilty, former Intel Corp William Gaede, indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property by sending three videotapes of confidential information on how to make 80486 and Pentium chips and worth more than $5m, to Advanced Micro Devices Inc, where Gaede worked earlier, reportedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was simply trying to make up for his earlier theft of Am386 chip designs, which he gave to the Cuban government.

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