High-tech Office In Briefcase Offers Mobility

December 16, 1991|By Michelle Singletary

For around $8,000, New Age executives can set themselves up with a mobile office in a briefcase, an electronic marvel that makes the cellular car phone look like a relic from the Industrial Revolution.

A Maryland firm, Stephens Engineering Co. Inc., is taking orders for a mobile office that combines a computer, printer, facsimile, modem and cellular telephone in a briefcase weighing less than 20 pounds.

After spending the last 12 years selling its computer services mainly to government agencies, the company is trying its hand at mass marketing the SEC 2000, an office in a briefcase.

"I believe with the SEC 2000 Stephens Engineering will be to the mobile communications world what Apple was to the Personal Computer world," said Wallace O. Stephens, owner of the Greenbelt-based company that is marketing the unit.

People who find themselves on the road more often than at the office may find the price tag for the SEC 2000 hefty but the mobility and integration of several systems priceless, Mr. Stephens said.

The computer is a full-featured unit with a 40 megabyte hard-disk drive and a 1.44 megabyte floppy-disk drive. It includes a fax machine that is able to receive all incoming fax transmissions and saves them as files on the hard-disk drive. This eliminates the need for printing document pages and allows the user to view the fax on the computer screen.

The cellular telephone is fully integrated into the computer. The fax, with the help of a modem, can be hooked up to a home or hotel telephone for use over standard telephone lines in addition to the Cellular network.

It's the company's first attempt to market a product rather than its services. Stephens Engineering is a 1990 graduate of the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program, which allows small, disadvantaged companies to compete for certain manufacturing and service contracts.

The company has concentrated on building its business through system integration, facility and computer maintenance. Under a $40 million contract with the State Department that runs through 1994, the company has set up and maintained computers in 95 countries, according to Mr. Stephens.

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