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  1. Technology
October 27, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Digital Equipment Corp chief financial officer Vincent Mullarkey says the computer systems division, which represents the bulk of its product revenue, is not yet profitable, but is close – and the personal computer business also was unprofitable, although revenue rose 325 year-over-year; Mullarkey said that over the next few weeks DEC will hire a new head for the personal computer business unit to replace the departed Bernhard Auer; personal computer system sales make up 30% of total product sales, while Alpha system sales make up 34%; Alpha system sales rose 40% year on year, and Unix on Alpha systems saw a 50% sales rise year-on-year, while Alphas running Windows NT were up 250% with revenues topping $200m; as total product sales in the quarter were $1,810m that all implies that Alpha sales were $615m; Unix on Alpha about $410m and personal computers $540m; Mullarkey expects the personal computer unit to be profitable in the second half of fiscal 1996 to June.

Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Cos Inc may have sold its fibre optic network but the oil and gas pipeline operator far from out of the telecommunications business, and says the planned acquisition of four ICG Wireless Services teleports by its Wiltech Group Inc positions it to double in 1996 sales at its fast-growing Vyvx Inc unit: Williams is acquiring teleports in Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and Carteret, New Jersey, from ICG and is also buying NUS Training Corp, an industrial-training group, and a 22% stake in worldwide telecommunications firm ITC to help it expand in electronic conferencing and enhanced facsimile services; in addition, Williams said it had struck technology agreements with IBM Corp, Sybase Inc, Sun Microsystems Inc and StrataCom Inc to develop a prototype for a national system for archiving video; terms were not given but the system will use Asynchronous Transfer Mode technology, Vyvx’s 11,000-mile fibre optic network and the new teleports to store and distribute video and other multimedia content; Williams puts the cost at over $50m and warns significant revenues from the service will not appear until 1997; it repeated its pledge to build its WilTech to $1,000m turnover by 2000.

The University of Los Andes, Santafe de Bogota, Colombia, has installed a Cray Research Inc J916 supercomputer at Colombia’s new national supercomputing centre in the third quarter, which it dedicated last week and named the MOX Centre for Advanced Computing in Engineering; Cray said this is its first supercomputer in the country; financial details were not given.

Toshiba Corp and the Asyst Automation Inc subsidiary of Asyst Technologies Inc are to play trains together – they will develop and market technology for transporting and storing wafers in semiconductor plants, helping chipmakers to cut costs by automating the production process: the new system combines Asyst’s automated wafer stocking systems and control software with Toshiba’s Maglev technology, which uses magnets to move cargo vehicles along an overhead rail system, Toshiba said; Asyst will focus on marketing and distribution in the US and Europe, while both companies will conduct marketing in Asia and each will continue to manufacture and service its individual systems.

Telefonica de Espana SA’s Telefonica Internacional SA has signed accords with Argentine, Mexican and Chilean telecommunications companies to boost its presence in Latin American cable television and telephone markets: the group took a 25% stake in Argentine cable television company Multicanal in agreement with communications group Clarin and Citicorp’s Citicorp Equity Investment; the accord leaves Argentina’s Clarin with a 52.5% holding in Multicanal and Citicorp with 22.5%; Telfonica Internacional said it will expand Multicanal’s capital by between $160m and $201m over a three-year period; Telefonica also has agreement with GTE Corp, Grupo Financiero Bancomer SA and Valores Industriales SA to buy into Mexican telecommunications group Unicom which plans to launch a long distance fibre optic network in Mexico, which originates 50% of all international calls from Latin America.

Italian telecommunications company Stet SpA is pushing to wrap up talks on an association with Chilean telephone operator Entel SA, which has been looking for a deal with a foreign strategic partner with a minimum of $100m to invest, and Entel expects to take a final decision on the deal early next momth: the companies did not give any details of the deal; Stet recently bought a 50% stake in Entel Bolivia (CI No 2,761) and also has stakes in Telecom Argentina and the Cuban telephone firm Etecsa; Entel is one of eight carriers vying for market share in Chile’s multicarrier long-distance telephone service which was deregulated last year, enabling customers to select which of the companies takes their call.

San Antonio, Texas-based SBC Communications Inc announced that the New York Public Service Commission has approved an application by an affiliate of its Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems subsidiary, SBMS New York Services Inc to provide local phone service in New York state: SBMS New York will file tariffs to provide local service in Rochester, New York, the country’s first open market for local telephone service.

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The Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, in which 11 people were killed and 5,000 made ill, has been turned into an on-line game and unamused Internet access providers are trying to block access to it, the Asahi Shimbun reports: in the worst possible taste, the game, called Kasumigaseki after the subway station that was the main target of the March 20 attacks, requires players to compete to see how many people they can kill with the deadly Sarin nerve gas – each player is allowed to scatter Sarin at five places, and wins 10 points per kill and one point per injury.

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