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  1. Technology
January 23, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Unir Technology Inc, the Naperville, Illinois-based distributor of the Bell Labs-developed C+AT (pronounced CAT) object-oriented programming language and accompanying Conix operating environment, says that this is the year the gloves come off and it starts going up against the competition, namely, Taligent Inc, NeXT Computer Inc and Microsoft Corp’s promised Cairo technology. Last year, Unir says it had moderate success as Bell Laboratories’ sole manufacturing representative selling source code licences to the stuff mainly to corporate developers and universities, despite the fact that there’s an estimated $3m to $5m of engineering still to be done. As it stands, however, Conix means that every significant facet of Unix such as Berkeley Sockets and files has been made into an object, which, Unir says, makes it much easier to work with than the originals. Unir has also taken an architecture-neutral approach and can take a binary off a Sparc machine and move it to any other environment anywhere without any recompilation. It believes this factor will be of significant importance in software distribution, easing the travails of software retailers that would not have to stock multiple application versions. That however would imply shrink-wrapping, something Unir itself would not attempt, it says, limiting its interests to the OEM side and source code licensing. Unir is said to have collected 12 private investors but believes it will be able to cut a deal in the third quarter with an unidentified European company willing to invest the $30m to $50m necessary to proliferate the stuff. By then it should have moved to other architectures such as PowerPC and Alpha, in addition to its current Solaris and Solaris x86 implementations. Unir’s first step this month will be an attempt to heighten the general awareness about Conix and C+AT. On the evening of Wednesday January 26 at a meeting of the Chicago Chapter of IEEE held at AT&T Bell Labs in Naperville there will be a presentation and demonstration of the technology led by Dr Jim Vandendorpe, one of the original C+AT language designers. The overview will cover C+AT’s use of data representation independence to enhance code re-use, its implementation of multiple delegated inheritance, its concept of default methods, its library of re-usable parts, its graphical user interface tools, its notion of incremental compile-load-and-go and its real-time garbage collection. Unir feels that it has more than a fighting chance against the likes of NeXTstep, which is not language-based, and Taligent, which it believes is proposing compilers. It sees the battle with Taligent as almost no contest and president Jim Fleming claims that NeXT developers have told him ‘your stuff is real. Ours is just smoke and mirrors.’

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