Martin Marietta Corp. has apparently done it again, garnering a bigger piece of a shrinking pie by netting more than $2 billion to build spy satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office.

The Bethesda, Md.-based company beat out Lockheed and TRW, two firms that have historically dominated the spy-satellite industry. TRW had the contract, until Martin and Lockheed successfully challenged the award. After the General Accounting Office ordered the contract rebid, Martin -- which said the contract was awarded unfairly to Cleveland-based TRW to keep it healthy -- got the nod. The synthetic-aperture radar satellites are designed chiefly for ocean surveillance. Until 1992, it was illegal to mention the National Reconnaissance Office by name.


US West Inc. and AirTouch Communications Inc. will merge their domestic cellular networks to create a new wireless carrier with national reach. Together, they serve 1.7 million customers and own cellular licenses in 16 of the top 30 domestic markets, including much of the West, the Atlanta area and parts of the Rust Belt. AirTouch, spun off from Baby Bell Pacific Telesis on April Fools' Day, will own 70 percent of the joint venture, with US West taking the remaining 30 percent. Several weeks ago, RBOCs Nynex and Bell Atlantic announced a similar venture combining their respective cellular assets.


Anyone with a technology-related job in the Netplex knows buzzwords are as integral a part of the business as hardware and software. Unfortunately, these bits of techno-babble wear thin fast. But in the Netplex, high-tech wordplay sometimes finds its way to a bumper sticker.

Recently seen on a Jeep Cherokee in the parking lot of a Safeway near Virginia's techie Tysons Corner: A fluorescent rendering of someone hanging ten over the caption: "Client Surfer."


Ham-fisted governments with a penchant for quashing dissidents now have a global PR problem: The best of their banned works are now available to 20 million people on the Internet.

Within the last three weeks, more than 12,000 Net surfers have visited the Digital Freedom Network, run by IDT in Hackensack, N.J., where tracts from Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, Iranian activist Esmail Fassih, Indonesian writer Pramoedya Ananta Toer and several down-trodden Egyptian authors linger. One new banned work is added to the server each week.

IDT is collaborating with the Human Rights groups Index on Censorship, Human Rights Watch and several journalist-protection organizations. The Digital Freedom Network may be accessed via gopher at iia.org.


Scientists, in a high-tech take on appeasing Pele, the volcano goddess, are inserting a hapless bundle of telecommunications gear, software and gewgaws into an active volcano near Anchorage, Alaska.

The eight-legged NASA robot, appropriately named Dante II, is being lowered into a steeply sloping crater of Mt. Spurr to explore a place too dangerous for mortal vulcanologists. Dante II, with its satellite communications and advanced computing system, is the most advanced field robot to be tested outside a lab, NASA says.

Dante II is armed with virtual reality gear to allow humans to "sense" the fire and brimstone during its five days inside the crater, while controlling its movement via satellite and Internet connections.

The mission lets NASA see how Dante II holds up to the possible weather inclemencies of other worlds without leaving Earth.

karaoke online WITH BARRY MANILOW

Zenith Electronics Corp. has announced the licensing of its 16-VSB (vestigial sideband) digital transmission technology to Japan's Xing Inc. for a -- we didn't make this up -- multimedia karaoke network.

According to Zenith, Xing will use the company's digital modulation and transmission technology to deliver myriad karaoke music videos, on-demand.

Apparently, the technology will offer Japanese Karaoke enthusiasts real-time interactivity with sing-along favorites.

Another EIA Forecast for Promising Infotech Spending

The Electronics Industry Association's five-year prognostication on the federal infotech market expects 0.4 percent growth through fiscal 1999. EIA's forecast -- its sixth -- predicts the fiscal 1995 infotech budget of about $26 billion will see a 1.4 percent increase in the civil market and a 1.2 percent decrease in the defense market.

The study, put together by a team including Boeing Information Services, Northrop Grumman, Hughes Info Tech Co., and others, was released at the end of June.

FY '95 FY '95 Percent

Department Budget IT Contracted

authority Obligations Out

HHS $647.4 B $2.8 B 68

NASA 14.0 B 2.0 B 92

Energy 15.5 B 1.9 B 83

Transportation 38.0 B 1.9 B 90

Treasury 336.8 B 1.8 B 63

USDA 59.9 B 1.1 B 57

Justice 12.5 B 900.7 M 78

Commerce 4.1 B 677.0 M 71

Veterans 36.7 B 664.0 M 54

Interior 6.9 B 521.0 M 55


In the July 14 letter to the editor from Mary Conger, the word "not" was inadvertently inserted into a sentence; it should have read: "If it feels like it has not been kept up to speed at each step along the way to a negative quarterly report, its punishment in terms of stock price is usually harsh."

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