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Tron, The Real-time Operating Nucleus, developed by 35-year-old Ken Sakamura at the University of Tokyo and announced in 1983, is shaping up as Japan’s contender to be the home-grown rival to Unix as a machine-independent portable operating system: NEC Corp implemented the I-Tron variant on its V20 and V30 microprocessors as long ago as 1984 (CI No 31), Fujitsu and Hitachi are jointly developing a 32-bit microprocessor optimised for Tron, and 40 companies have put up a total of $60m in funds and equipment for Tron hardware and software development; only problem is that while Tron is touted as a personal computer environment, its genesis was in robot control and switching systems, which makes it likely that its primary applications will be found in embedded control systems for anything from microwave ovens and washing machines to cars and aircraft.

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