If Gordon Campbell has his way, answering machines will be a thing of the past. The founder of Chips & Technologies, which makes VLSI chip sets that replace the glue logic in Personalikes, has gone into the add-in business in a big way. The first product out the door will be a card that turns a PC into a very smart phone call handler; the debut is set for any day now. For something less than $350, The Complete PC Inc, of Milpitas, California, will ship a co-processor that will run on any PC family machine or clone with a hard disk. It answers the telephone, plays a pre-recorded message, and stores incoming messages in a special compressed digitised form. The board and associated software work like an ordinary when I beep you peep machine. But messages can be also routed to individual voice mailboxes on the PC disk in response to numbers keyed by a caller. The system is smart enough to trail wandering hackers to the local bar or wherever. That is, the system’s operator can instruct the PC to call an outside number and, in response to phone tone, pass any recorded messages. It’s too early to tell whether the software will allow two users to put their machines at war, calling back and forth until one, disk exhausted, answers the phone with the message, Uncle. When the product comes out, it will work only in the US. Sources at the company say they will be looking for partners in Europe willing to adapt the proprietary technology to work with other telephone system standards… and get local versions of the product through the inevitable PTT red tape.
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