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  1. Technology
November 23, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

AT&T Corp could announce an agreement with an Italian partner within a few months, according to the head of the company’s Italian division, Mario Bonzano: he indicated that AT&T is looking for an partner that already controls a telecommunications network in Italy, which suggests state electric utility ENEL, the gas monopoly Snam and the state railway operator, each of which has its own independent infrastructure.

Sony Corp is in the $500 Internet access device camp when it comes to the future of personal computers, and according to the new man in charge, Nobuuki Idei, personal computers as we know them will never proliferate on the scale of television sets or telephones because they are too hard to use, and instead, processing power will be added to these and even to such everyday items as eyeglasses – all of which is why Sony is entering the international personal computer business, since the company needs to understand how to deal directly with consumers rather than having a wall of dealers getting in the way – The intelligent television idea and personal computer idea coexist, Idei said, But which is bigger? I think the more simplified, intelligent type of television will be a much, much bigger market.

In Tuesday’s massacre of Internet-related stocks, UUNet Technologies Inc shares plunged $20.25, or nearly 22%, to $73 – which won’t please Unipalm Group Plc shareholders that accepted the shares rather than selling in the market; Spyglass Inc shares sank $14, or more than 13%, to $90.75; Netcom On-Line Communication Services Inc shares fell $7.75, or more than 10%, to $66.625; and Netscape Communications Corp held up relatively well, off $8.50, or more than 7%, to $107.75; and Quarterdeck Corp shares closed at $27, down $3.75.

Most helpful – researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a recordable disk that can hold 200 times more data than an ordinary compact disk – that appears to imply 120Gb – and the lab has licensed the technology to local company Norsam Technologies Inc, Espanola, New Mexico, according to an Associated Press item: unfortunately, there is no information on technology, the performance or likely cost, or any indication of a launch date; the thing is said to be aimed at institutions with huge amounts of data to store; Norsam expects to hire up to 300 people to work on the new project.

Cable & Wireless Plc shares powered ahead after the news that chairman Lord Young and chief executive James Ross had been given their marching orders by the board, mainly on grounds that while it is seen to be leaderless, it is vulnerable to a bid; we don’t expect it to be acquired, but the shares should still harden as any new management is expected to refine the operation, disposing of Lord Young’s more quixotic investments in Pakistan, Latvia, Belarus, Colombia, St Petersburg, and perhaps even Israel.

Computer Management Group Plc says it expects an offer price of 270 pence to 290 pence per share for its Amsterdam and London flotation.

After conducting a random sample of 1,201 US households with personal computers, San Francisco market researcher Odyssey reckons that Windows95 has achieved only 6% penetration, and where Pulp achieving a top five placing in the US album charts is a dramatic success, if Michael Jackson stays at number one for only three weeks, it is a disastrous failure and people start talking about his career being on the rocks; Odyssey also found that 41% of home computer owners say they don’t know enough about Windows95 to have an opinion on the operating system and 53% say that they are not at all likely to upgrade in the next six months; the survey suggests 40% of home users have Windows 3, 28% MS-DOS only, and 15% have Mac OS; 6% have things like AmigaDOS, 4% just don’t know; the 6% estimate for US home penetration for Windows95 would suggest about 1.8m units, a figure that on other evidence, Microsoft general manager Brad Chase reckons too low.

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The Microsoft Corp-Visa International alliance for making credit card charges on the Internet is having some difficulties and may end up merging its technology with the Mastercard International Inc rival, USA Today reported: banks that issue Visa cards have informed Visa that they are concerned about Microsoft’s standard – in particular its greedy idea of taking a bit off the top of every transaction.

Craig McCaw formally denied any interest in Cable & Wireless Plc.

The US Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved Westinghouse Electric Corp’s $5,400m acquisition of CBS Inc, which will now become a completed transaction.

Why did Lord Young and James Ross both have to go at Cable & Wireless Plc – reportedly called in separately by the board and asked to resign immediately? Well, we didn’t receive any calls (for which much thanks), but the Wall Street Journal says Ross and Lord Young each hired high power flacks to put their personal case to the press.

For how much longer? Intel competes with IBM, IBM with Compaq, Compaq with Apple, Apple with Microsoft, runs the advertising copy before adding smugly but they all co-operate with Deutsche Telekom: Duetsche Telekom AG is becoming intimately involved with AOL venture, whose avowed aim is to see off the Microsoft Network in Europe; the ad reminds us that its efforts with Microsoft Corp are on Windows multimedia software for ISDN.

Oh dear – roll on the $500 or less Internet access device: despite the hype and the stores staying open past midnight (at least you can enjoy the Beatles Anthology 1 if you like that kind of thing), penetration of Windows95 into US computer-owning homes is still only 6% according to Odyssey in San Francisco, and now the Wall Street Journal reports that it’s going to be a great games cartridge Christmas – for 16-bit games, because it seems that the $300 price tag on the 32-bit games machines is just too steep for many avid gamesters.

Hewlett-Packard Co has plans to enhance its Visualize graphics subsystems and will start with a double-buffered 48-bit offering.

France’s Cie Financiere de Paribas confirmed it will float another 1.4m shares, or 28%, of its computer services unit, Axime SA, in a public offering on the Second Marche of the Paris Bourse and guaranteed global placement: although Paribas is giving up a bigger portion of Axime, the financial and industrial holding company will still control nearly 60%; Axime made its debut on the bourse in 1993, when Paribas sold a 12% stake in an initial public offering.

Digital Equipment Corp reminds us that Cray Research Inc’s T3D massively-parallel system can actually support up to 2,048 Alpha RISCs.

David Small, graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab found himself in the unusual position of de facto on-line executor of Murial Cooper, a professor at the Lab who died of a heart attack in May at the age of 68: he set up a program that automatically returned a message about her death to anyone sending electronic mail to her mail box… two people responded by sending her mail telling her they missed her.

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