EPA takes aim against idle printersThey lurk by the...


February 08, 1993|By Steve Auerweck

EPA takes aim against idle printers

They lurk by the millions, on desktops and in out-of-the-way corners, quietly sucking up electricity and spewing out heat. They are idle computer printers, waiting for the occasional letter or memo to come their way.

To save some of those billions of watts, the Environmental Protection Agency has recruited many of the largest computer manufacturers into its Energy Star program, which aims to increase computer efficiency.

In the EPA's latest campaign, each company has agreed to sell printers that automatically use less electricity when inactive; the EPA says that each printer's power use could be cut by 30 percent to 50 percent. That could translate into savings of 6 billion kilowatt-hours -- or about $450 million worth -- of electricity annually, the EPA says.

The agency says those savings would equate to 5 million tons less carbon dioxide being poured forth from power plants, and more than 30,000 fewer tons of sulfur dioxide, a key component of acid rain.

Companies taking part in the program -- including Apple Computer Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. -- account for 80 percent of all laser printers sold in the country, the EPA says.

The agency says computers account for about 5 percent of commercial electricity use, a number that could double by the turn of the century.

Essex Corp. seeks financing for ImSyn

Columbia-based Essex Corp. is looking for financing to develop and commercialize a new technique for processing the type of images produced by CAT or magnetic-resonance scanners.

Essex announced last week that it had retained Advent International Financial Services Inc., a Boston investment banking and venture capital firm, to help in the search for partners who could help bring the ImSyn systems to market.

ImSyn uses a "somewhat ignored and neglected part of physics and technology," according to Dr. Harry Letaw Jr., chairman of Essex Corp.

Dr. Letaw explained that the technique uses a hybrid of digital and "photonic," or optical, technology. Scanners produce digital data, which is transformed into hundreds of thousands of parallel light beams. Circuits can then modulate, or shape, those beams tens of millions of times a second, producing effective processing power of trillions of operations a second.

While the approach doesn't work for general-purpose computing, the company noted that its applications would include image compression and processing of radar images for mapping, as well as the medical scanners.

"There is the potential for engines that form images 100 times faster than presently available processors," Dr. Letaw said.

Through Advent International, Essex is seeking either venture

capital partners or strategic partners that might be producing products that could benefit from the ImSyn technology.

The ImSyn system had its beginnings in the Systems Engineering and Development Corp., a privately held company that Essex purchased in June 1989.

Essex has about 150 employees in Columbia; McClean, Va., and Huntsville, Ala.

C&P observing Black History Month

Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland has made a donation that will help Marylanders look to the past.

C&P's $5,000 gift to the Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore will help pay for a statue of Granville T. Woods, a 19th century communications and electrical pioneer.

Mr. Woods patented a telephone transmitter in 1885, then sold the rights to Alexander Graham Bell's Bell Co. Mr. Woods' company also produced a host of innovations, including a new form of railway telegraph and the idea of the "third rail" for electric rail cars.

To help C&P observe Black History Month, the museum lent a statue of Lewis H. Latimer for display in the company's lobby. Mr. Latimer, another 19th century black engineer, was hired by Mr. Bell to make patent drawings for the first telephone.

Defense agency aids fiber-optics research

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently formed a consortium to research the future of high-capacity fiber-optic communications networks.

Bellcore, the research arm of the seven "Baby Bell" regional phone networks, will lead the group, which also includes Columbia University, Hewlett-Packard, Hughes Aircraft Co., Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, Northern Telecom, Rockwell International Corp., and United Technologies Research Center.

Pedigree recommends a dog for the Clintons

Watch out, Socks!

You'd better hope that your owner, technologically savvy President Clinton, doesn't fall for the recommendation of the Selectadog computer, run by the people who make Pedigree dog food.

Pedigree says its computer program, which matches characteristics and lifestyles of prospective dog owners with the traits of various breeds of dog, recommends that the Clintons own either a West Highland white terrier or miniature schnauzer.

You can send a postcard with your name and address to Pedigree Selectadog Service, P.O. Box 58853, Vernon, Calif., 90058-0853. Pedigree will send a questionnaire to fill out for a free recommendation.

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