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High-Tech Houses Offer Windows to the Future : Marin County: Hang a left on the Information Superhighway to reach the subdivision wired for the 21st Century. Video conferencing, Internet access and personal computers can be built in.


CORTE MADERA, Calif. — A chicken in every pot. A car in every garage. A computer in every room.

Could it be the new American dream?

Marin County, home of hot tubs, peacock feathers and New Age lifestyles, is ahead of the curve once again, introducing a 150-house subdivision that can be wired for the latest technology.

The Jetsons have landed in Corte Madera at the Madera del Presidio residential development. The subdivision offers three model homes that could propel buyers well into the 21st Century.

There's the Information Highway House, which can accommodate the latest in computer technology just by plugging a modem into a telephone jack.

Homeowners can take advantage of Internet access and video conferencing in the home office while their children play computer games with opponents across the country. Even the breakfast nook is wired, so the cook can access Julia Child recipes on a laptop screen.

And there's the ultimate in commuter comfort--a house that allows the owner to run appliances from the car by pressing numbers on a cellular telephone.

With just the press of a few buttons, homeowners can use a remote access system to turn on air conditioners, hot tubs and ovens while they're still stuck in traffic. That way, when they finally get home, the house will be cool, the tub warm and the dinner done.

Finally, there's the Entertainment House, which features state-of-the-art video systems and surround sound.

It's all the work of a partnership of the HCV Pacific Partners development firm in San Francisco; Houston.-based Compaq Computer Corp.; Computer Life Magazine, and Ziff-Davis labs.

The homes start at $450,000 without all the high-tech extras. With them, they can can run up to $23,500 more.

The extras include video conferencing, Internet access, five personal computers and a printer that also serves as a copier and a fax machine. It even includes an in-home e-mail system to let the kids know it's time for dinner without Mom or Dad having to yell across the house.

Other options include a television satellite dish giving access to at least 80 channels, and home theaters.

The houses are wired for five telephone lines and served by a high-quality telephone cable. That's backed up with fiber-optic cables to handle gadgets that might be coming.

"The point of the Information Highway House is to very visibly demonstrate what's possible today with existing technology. We're finding we can do lots of exciting things when we bring them together," said Mark Vena, acting director of consumer product marketing for Compaq.

"All this technology is not from the year 2500. It's available today," he added.

So far, four of the 150 houses have been built and 12 more are under construction.

The buyers include a family in which the parents have a home office and another family that already owns several computers.

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