olographic storage COMING INTO SIGHT

Tamarack Storage Devices, one of the higher-profile spinoffs of the controversial Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp., announced that it has completed testing and assembly of the first-ever fully integrated holographic computer storage system.

John Stockton, Tamarack's high-octane CEO, referred to the system as an "alpha" unit, and said the Austin, Texas-based firm is now shifting its focus to pumping out commercial beta units.

Holography is a lensless photographic method for producing a 3-D image by splitting a laser beam into two parts and focusing each on a particular point to create a 3-D image. In computer storage the technology works by intersecting two laser beams -- the actual beam that contains the information and a reference beam -- into a storage crystal.

A device called a spatial light modulator translates the digital electronic information into light and dark spots. The intersection between the data beam and the reference beam creates an "interference" pattern within a given location in the crystal -- the data storage.

Changing the angle at which both beams intersect can add another layer, or page, of data to the same location, making holography a theoretically highly effective storage technique.

To reconstruct the data, the reference or "read" beam is passed over that spot at the same angle of the recording.

Then, using a device called a detector array -- developed by defense contractor Hughes Aircraft -- light patterns are translated back into electronic signals.

Tamarack has tapped mostly government and MCC member companies to fund its efforts, which will compete with a plethora of promising new computer storage technologies -- not to mention entrenched and still viable techniques such as good old magnetic drives and tape.

Net SPURS DATA transfer boom

BIS Strategic Decisions, a market research outfit, put an exclamation point beside its conclusion that the North American market for electronic data transfer will grow more than 25 percent, reaching $1 billion in 1998. That's up from $410 million in 1993.

The firm pegs the explosive growth of Internet as a driver for much -- and it also notes that the sprawling network could pose a major business challenge to traditional network providers of EDI services.

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