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Business Week has an article on the collapse of VPL. The virtual-reality company was selling over $6M/year, but wanted to expand to fit Jaron Lanier's vision. Thomson-CSF originally invested 10%, then increased its stake with several bridge loans. Problems arose as Thomson demanded more control, and this scared off other potential investors. Now Thomson owns the patents and is suing for related documentation and hardware. Lanier and four others have split to form Domain Simulations, a Sausalito software company. At least 24 other VR companies are competing, and VPL's patents may have little value. [Joan O'C. Hamilton, BW, 2/22, p. 95.]

Dick Tracy's wrist TV is coming! Or maybe not. General Magic (Mountain View) has issued a press-release blitz about personal intelligent communicators -- pen-based multimedia notepads for cellular mobile computing -- even though no product will be out until summer. Motorola, AT&T, Sony, and IBM have bought into the venture, and Apple expects this to be its entry into the consumer electronics market. Magic's Telescript software will allow all devices to communicate over all networks; Magic Cap is the user- friendly user interface software. [Richard Ottolini (stgprao and [email protected], misc.invest, 2/10. Bill Park.] General Magic has also been advertising for software engineers (OODB, communications) and marketing people. Sondra Card ([email protected]), (415) 965-1830 Fax. [m.j.o, 2/11.] AT&T's exclusive 2.5-year deal shuts out MCI and Sprint, which may limit consumer acceptance. [Rory J. O'Connor, SJM, 2/10.]

3D-MAGAZIN is a quarterly in German about 3D fractals, VR, games, and other 3D topics. DM 56 plus international postage. Bode Verlag, Duernberg 2, D-45721 Haltern, Germany, or contact Alexander Klein ( [ Bill Park, 2/12.]

Black Ice is a new B&W cyberpunk 'zine from Britain. I gather that it's more technical and less corporate-level than WIRED. 15 pounds for four issues, or 3.95 each; P.O. Box 1069, Brighton BN2 4YT. [Verge ([email protected]), Bill Park, 2/8.]

SURFPUNK Technical Journal is a multinational hacker zine from California. [email protected]. [Don Webb ([email protected]), ARACHNET, 2/2.]

Virtual Universe Corporation (Canada) is seeking OPEN GL 3D surface-geometry code fragments to be integrated into its multiuser system for phone-line networking of up to 100 users in one virtual space. [email protected]. [ Bill Park, 2/12.]

A LaTeX-formatted report on the NSF-sponsored workshop on Visual Information Management and multimedia databases, 2/92, can be FTP'd from /ai/nsfwork.tex on Use password "ident". Hardcopy can be ordered from Kathy Dewitt, AI Lab, 1101 Beal Ave., UMichigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. [Ramesh Jain ([email protected]), dbworld, 2/8.]

News flash: 1993 is the 150th anniversary of fax. The first machines were built in 1843 by Scottish physicist Alexander Bain using jaw bones and heather. The first operational system, with pendulum units 7 feet tall, sent messages from Paris to Lyons in 1861. By 1872 the US Postmaster General warned Congress that facsimile transmission would, sooner or later, seriously compete with the post. See this month's New Scientist for more details, or watch Tim Hunkin on "The Secret Life of Machines," Discovery Channel, 2/23, 9:30 PM EST. [Bill St. Arnaud ([email protected]), com-priv, 2/12.]