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Oracle Demos Device to Get People Online

February 27, 1996|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Corp. previewed a device Monday that is supposed to make it easier, faster and less expensive for people to enter cyberspace.

Chief Executive Larry Ellison demonstrated a prototype of the company's new Network Computer, a $500 device that will let people exchange e-mail, do word processing and access the Internet.

The machines are expected to go on sale in September. They will also have voice mail and fax capabilities.

In addition to being less expensive than a typical $1,500 personal computer, the device most used for going online now, Oracle's machine is supposed to be easier to use.

But it will not perform many of the useful tasks personal computers do, such as running the huge variety of existing programs for everything from balancing checkbooks to planning gardens to figuring taxes.

Eventually, programs sent over the Internet may provide such capabilities.

"It's not so much a computer as it is an information device," Oracle Network Computing Vice President Andy Laursen said. "We're not trying to build a stripped-down PC. It's not competitive with a PC. A PC does a lot but is complicated to learn to use. A network computer is more like a telephone set in that it's easy to use."

Oracle's Network Computer will come in several designs. One plugs a keyboard and mouse into a television set to use the TV as the screen, another uses a remote-control device with the television screen. A third plugs a small screen into the telephone, a fourth is more like a laptop computer and a fifth is a desktop version.

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