• U.S.

Techwatch: Nov. 4, 1996

3 minute read
Daniel Eisenberg and Anita Hamilton


Ah, the ’70s. There must be something magical about the decade that keeps romancing American pop culture. How else explain the resurrection of Afros, polyester and funk in movies, music and now on our PCs?

Interstate ’76, a new CD-ROM game from Activision, doesn’t exactly recall the most seductive parts of the disco decade, but it does offer a great laugh or two. With the gas crisis still raging, bands of vigilantes (who look suspiciously like the waiting line at Studio 54) are blasting their way around the Southwest. Your mission: to join the pack and stop a rival gang of terrorists. All good fun, but why load up PCs, those most ’90s of devices, with this tribute to the ’70s? “The future,” explains developer Zack Norman, “is boring.” Maybe, but we can at least hope it doesn’t include neon-orange corduroy vests.


[Arrow up] Net surfing might make you smarter. In a new survey, students with online access had up to 97% better “thinking” skills than those without.

[Arrow down] Investigators blame an American Airlines crash in Colombia last year on a pilot’s misuse of a cockpit computer meant to simplify navigation.


When Wired Ventures Inc. announced plans to go public last spring, it took the financial industry by surprise. Sure, the company’s flagship Wired magazine was the bible of information-age intelligentsia, but that prestige came from its celebration of digital culture, not from a robust bottom line in its print and online ventures. Would Wired become the latest money-losing company to make good in the market? Apparently not. Last Friday, citing “adverse market conditions,” the firm canceled its second attempt at an offering. Though the magazine and online ventures are expected to continue, the company will have to fund them the old-fashioned way–with profits.


It’s been more than a decade since Apple first wowed the computer world with its Macintosh, so now that it has all but waved the white flag in its losing battle with Microsoft, the company is opening a new front. The weapons of choice, unveiled this week and available early next year, are its first “information appliances”: portable, simple-to-use devices that will sell for less than $1,000 and combine PC functionality with palmtop mobility.

Both the eMate 300 mobile computer, left, which is targeted at students, and the business-focused MessagePad 2000 are the kind of affordable computers that may one day replace bulky desktop machines. Each uses a modified version of Apple’s Newton software and offers easy hookups to E-mail, the Internet and applications like spreadsheets and word processing. The eMate has a keyboard designed for kids’ clumsy fingers and a special stylus that lets them draw and enter data by “writing” on the screen. And though Apple has packed both new devices with the latest technology, it hopes the machines will transcend mere gadgetry.

For more technology and computer news visit techwatch.com on the web.

–By Daniel Eisenberg and Anita Hamilton

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com