Apple, Toshiba plan hand-held device to launch new generation of computers

June 24, 1992|By San Francisco Chronicle

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Apple Computer and Japan's Toshiba announced plans yesterday to jointly create a new generation of computers, starting with a hand-held device that will be the first to use technology created in an Apple/IBM joint venture.

The partnership with Toshiba will produce multimedia computers, which can display still photographs, sophisticated animation and video in addition to simple text and graphics.

Instead of floppy disks, these machines will rely mainly on storage disks similar to CDs used to play stereo recordings.

An initial hand-held model is expected in mid-1993 at a price of less than $1,000. Apple will design the system and Toshiba will manufacture it in Japan.

Both companies plan to sell their own versions of the device, which is known by the code name Sweet Pea.

Yesterday's announcement came a few weeks after Apple announced an electronic note pad called Newton, developed in a joint venture with Sharp Inc. Apple has vowed to share its software technology with many

partners to help build a market for what it calls "personal digital assistants," or PDAs.

Sweet Pea is one of many ballyhooed products boasting multimedia capabilities. But it is likely to attract wide attention because it is to use software created by Kaleida, Apple's multimedia venture with International Business Machines.

The two companies have declined to divulge most operating details of that venture until now, when they confirmed that venture capitalist Nat Goldhaber will be Kaleida's chief executive.

Speaking at the Digital World conference, Apple Chief Executive John Sculley disclosed that Kaleida will develop a variety of software that will allow multimedia software titles to run with little modification on computers that use different operating systems

and different microprocessor chips. Some publishers had been wary of creating CD-ROM versions of their programs because it is so costly to make different versions for different machines.

The new authoring software, called Script X, will be licensed to numerous companies after it is used in the device created with Toshiba.

"This will be the first step in a family of products that will use the Kaleida technology," Mr. Sculley said.

Toshiba, a diversified electronics manufacturer, is a logical partner because of its expertise in semiconductors and other components.

In addition, Toshiba is working with IBM on new chips and display screens, and has a partnership with media giant Time Warner Inc., which also is believed to be working with IBM on new multimedia software. The Japanese company has been negotiating with Apple on the new venture for two years.

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