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Technology / AI and automation


Is viewdata ever going to make it in the US? Despite the death of most of the experimental systems such as the one operated jointly by AT&T Co and Knight Ridder Newspapers, IBM and Sears, Roebuck & Co are still believers. Their joint venture – with the somewhat embarrassing name of Trintex – CBS Inc was the third member of the Trinity but pulled out – is due to start operations this spring in Atlanta, Georgia and in San Francisco under the Prodigy name. Designed specifically for use with MS-DOS and OS/2 micros, Apple IIs and Macs, it will need a 1,200 bps modem, communications software and a graphics board in the micro. The subscription charge will be only about $15 a month, and facilities to be offered include booking travel reservations throught the American Airlines Sabre system; trading shares and bonds via Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette; and order groceries from big stores like Krogers in Atlanta. Sports commentator Howard Cosell, and Jane Fonda, presumbly in her incarnation as fitness freak, will be writing daily columns – and have reportedly even agreed to answer readers’ electronic letters. Other participants as information or service providers include Dow Jones & Co, Gannett, publisher of USA Today, and department store chain operator J C Penney. The system will be part-funded by advertising, ads appearing as a line at the bottom of each screen of data.

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