Md. intrastate calls now less expensiveThe cost of...

TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATION

June 28, 1993|By Steve Auerweck

Md. intrastate calls now less expensive

The cost of intrastate phone calls in Maryland plunged by 19.8 percent in the past year, but remains slightly above the national average, a new survey says.

National Utility Service Inc., a consulting firm, looked at the cost of a three-minute, 25-mile call within a "local area," in telephone terms. Maryland's cost fell from 86 cents in 1992 to 69 cents, compared with a U.S. average of 66 cents.

National Utility Service attributed the drop, the second-largest in the country, to increased competition here.

The most- and least-expensive states border Maryland. In West Virginia, the average cost of the sample call was $1.44; in Delaware, it was just 33 cents.

But take heart -- National Utility Service pegs U.S. costs as among the lowest in its comparisons of 10 Western countries.

AT&T gives U. of Md.,Morgan computer labs

Morgan State University and the University of Maryland at College Park are among 61 schools that will be given networked computer labs by AT&T.

At Morgan, the 20 workstations, along with a central file server and related equipment, will give students hands-on experience in programming and in the design and use of local- and wide-area networks, says Dr. William L. Lupton, chairman of the computer science department.

The Unix-based machines, made by AT&T subsidiary NCR, also will be connected to the university's ETA-10 supercomputer, a gift from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center two years ago, Dr. Lupton said.

On average, AT&T valued the labs at nearly $115,000.

The company also noted its first gift to a university outside the United States -- the Academy for Technology and Agriculture in Bydgoszcz, Poland -- since the donation program began in 1984.

Pacific Animated creates programs for Heathkit

Pacific Animated Imaging Corp., an Annapolis-based developer of instructional software for MS-DOS based PCs, has begun work on a new series of programs on electronics for Heathkit Educational Systems.

Pacific Animated had created packages that Heathkit sold in the institutional market, primarily high schools and vocational schools. With the new series, Heathkit is aiming at the individual buyer who wants to study at home.

Robert Thurman, Pacific Animated's vice president, says the company was formed about three years ago when its current chairman and chief executive officer, John J. Cadigan, linked his business with that of a supplier based in Redmond, Wash. Today, the company's 20 employees remain split between the two coasts.

The company specializes in creating animated graphics, primarily for operations support and training, that work well on low-end machines, Mr. Thurman says.

Computers enhance Snow White, dwarfs

Animation of a different sort will be in the spotlight Friday, when the Walt Disney Co. releases a restored version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" that owes much of its luster to computers.

The film was processed by Cinesite, an Eastman Kodak company. Nearly 120,000 frames of film were scanned in and digitally enhanced to erase the scars of time. Each frame consumed nearly 40 megabytes of storage, the size of the average hard disk on a low-end PC.

Electronics supplier buys Md. firm's assets

A large supplier of electronic components to industry has bought the assets of its former Maryland affiliate and plans to expand its presence here.

All American Semiconductor Inc. of Miami previously had a 45 percent interest in Rockville-based All American Transistor of D.C. Inc. Now, according to Paul Goldberg, All American Semiconductor's chairman, the way is clear for an increase in sales staff and investment in new distribution technology.

"It's a beautiful marketplace, a growing market," he said. The company, whose shares are traded through Nasdaq, sells to the original-equipment market, with many customers in the aerospace, military, computer and medical fields.

The Rockville operation had sales of $2.4 million last year; Mr. Goldberg projects $5 million next year. He plans to increase customer services such as bar coding, in-house ordering terminals and just-in-time distribution.

'Beams' offer viewers a 3-dimensional world

University of Washington virtual reality researchers are working on a way to "beam" viewers into the action.

Current systems to project users into a three-dimensional world rely on bulky headsets with a miniature TV screen or liquid-crystal display for each eye. The experimental system uses laser beams, lenses and mirrors to "paint" images directly on the wearer's retinas.

The researchers' goal: to reduce a tableful of equipment to a lightweight system, mounted on eyeglass frames, that would create bright, clear images with a wide field of view. Eventually, "virtual" objects or characters could be projected onto your view of the real world.

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