IBM announced a portable computer yesterday that is controlled with a pen instead of a mouse pointing device or a keyboard.
Though it is not the first company to introduce a pen-based computer, International Business Machines Corp. is entering the market more quickly than it has approached other new computing markets.
Although its new machine, at 6 pounds, is slightly heavier than some of its competitors', IBM is expected to play a significant role in the new market.
The machine, dubbed the Thinkpad, will be available in July. It ultimately might be remembered as the first in a wave of personal computers from IBM this year that will come equipped with operating systems other than Microsoft's MS-DOS.
IBM, once Microsoft Corp.'s closest ally, is now a bitter rival and reportedly is looking for ways to free itself entirely from dependence on Microsoft's operating system.
IBM is expected to begin bundling its new OS/2 operating system with its desktop PS/2 computers this year.
In the case of the Thinkpad, the machine will use Go Corp.'s Penpoint operating system. Go announced yesterday at a San Francisco news conference that it was starting to ship its operating system.
Go is competing with Microsoft, which recently made available a version of its Windows program called Pen for Windows.
Go demonstrated its operating system yesterday on the Thinkpad and on similar computers from NCR Corp. and Grid Systems Corp. Twenty-two software companies also introduced almost 50 programs designed to run with Penpoint, including calendars, word processors and spreadsheets.
"This was the Woodstock of pen computing," said S. Gerrold Kaplan, Go's chairman and founder.