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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Palmtop PCs, Gates Star at Comdex


LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Internet-friendly palmtop computers were the stars this year of the massive five-day Comdex computer industry convention, the world's largest technology fair and the curtain-raiser for many of the industry's most promising next-generation products.

Microsoft, the world's leading software maker, opened Comdex late Sunday with the announcement of a new generation of tiny personal computers based on its newest operating system, Windows CE, or Consumer Electronics.

Microsoft's system, unveiled in mid-September, manages the functions of a new generation of electronic devices capable of interfacing with the Internet.

The U.S. companies Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, Japan's Casio, Hitachi and NEC, the Netherlands' Philips and South Korea's LG Electronics also showed versions of the handy machines, whose costs range from $500 to $700.

The pocket-sized "mobile companions" to more powerful but stationary PCs are designed to give users access to scheduling software, e-mail, word processing and the Internet.

The event's keynote speaker was Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who paid tribute to the personal computer and delivered a few jabs to competitors who see the future in dependent on a network.

Speaking Tuesday to a crowd of about 7,500, Gates conceded there was a role for so-called network computers -- stripped-down terminals that are dependent on computer networks for performing functions. But people want such snazzy features as voice recognition and video conferencing, he said. It's easier and cheaper to do that on PCs than on computer "servers" that run networks, which also can become overloaded.

The personal computer, he said, will remain the information workhorse. "The PC is still the [best] device to sit next to, edit your e-mail, do your taxes and do your homework." ()