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April 14, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

A portable computer that generates its own electricity by plucking ambient RF radio waves out of the air and using the principles of the Tesla coil to convert them into direct current is promised for next January. The company making the promise is Sonic Electric Energy Corp, formed in Atlanta by a group of former Bell Laboratories researchers working with the Atlanta University Center of all-black colleges. Sonic claims that the computer will be 6 lbs lighter than a battery lap-top by virtue of its unique power source, and will simply need a built-in antenna to pick up the RF energy. Sonic reckons that 1989 sales for the machine should reach $50m. It is also licensing the power source technology and reckons it will add only $20 to the price of a portable television, computer or whatever. The Tesla coil has been reduced to a single chip, and the whole unit is described as being the size of a cigarette pack. The antenna takes RF waves at frequencies under 66MHz from the atmosphere, converting them into energy in a similar manner to the way a photo-electric cell converts light waves to energy. NASA is working on the technology at the microwave end of the radiation spectrum to do a power source for powering super-light aircraft.

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