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January 29, 1989

PERSUADING USERS OF WORTH OF TOP-ONE IS HARD GRIND, BUT TELECOMPUTING VALUES ITS INDEPENDENCE

By CBR Staff Writer

Oxford-based Telecomputing Plc is putting a brave face on its year-end figures, choosing to describe its UKP194,000 pre-tax loss as a virtual break-even, and the rate of its Top-One artificial intelligence software sales as slow. Breaking down the results, sales support manager Tim Harle claimed that product revenues had risen slightly – UKP1.73m from UKP1.72m – over the course of the year, but conceded that sales and recurring licence charges from its teleprocessing monitor had made a strong contribution. Particularly valuable appears to be a steady trickle of ICL customers, who transplant their Telecomputing monitor when moving over to IBM hardware. By contrast, consultancy-based turnover fell to UKP1.2m from UKP1.5m, a drop described by Harle as the result of moving staff over to new Top One developments. Chief of these appears to be an MS-DOS micro implementation, Top One/Flex, developed in conjunction with Logic Programming Associates, and designed to run as a start-up package on IBM ATs, PS/2s and compatibles. Telecomputing claims that a number of Top One/Flex sales, and plans to offer a similar DEC VAX implementation shortly. The company has also developed natural language software for Keyline, a home shopping firm which hopes to provide customers with X25 links to a number of major suppliers’ computer systems. On the consultancy front, Harle says that its business now falls into two main areas – advising organisations wanting to start implementing artificial intelligence techniques, and developing systems for the production of specific knowledge-based applications. Ambitions to expand the Telecomputing presence in the US market appear to be taking off, albeit slowly. Although Top One sales to the US have also been slow, the company claims interest in the product is growing, and that it is now negotiating with a number of large US-based firms. Although an obvious takeover target, Harle says there are no plans to seek financial refuge in a larger group. We’ve been independent for 15 years and value that independence greatly, he concluded.

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