Incoming

Fresh from the labs: AT&T Bell Laboratories has reached an agreement to allow the curiously named Entropic Research Laboratory Inc. of Washington, D.C., to market and sublicense text-to-speech software. Based on the three decades of lab work, the technology converts English text into natural-sounding speech with 97 percent comprehension -- a potential boon to the deaf, not to mention the generally illiterate.

Meanwhile, a company called GAMMA-A Technologies of Herndon, Va., has two patents in hand for a potentially revolutionary treatment of post-surgical bacterial infections -- especially those stemming from artificial hips, knees, even contact lenses. The patents cover a technique to coat tissue with a substance that prevents colonization by nasty bacteria and viruses.

Massively paralyzed: The supercomputer industry is gearing up for its annual hypefest November 14-18 in Washington, D.C. But this will be a curious affair, as two of the hottest, newest, most revolutionary companies -- Thinking Machines and Kendall Square Research -- are now bankrupt, financially and perhaps even conceptually. Danny Hillis, the legendary founder of Thinking Machines, once quipped that he wanted to build a machine that would be proud of him. How proud are the company's investors?

Speaking of bankruptcy, or near brushes with it, whatever happened to Tandem Computers Inc., the once high-flying maker of hulking computers to process everything from ATM transactions to airline reservations? A complete product makeover, including a wildly successful entry into the parallel processing market, and a whopping gain of $170 million for 1994, compared to losses of $517 million in 1993, that's what. Tandem's turnaround -- engineered in the midst of a risky entry into the very unproven parallel processing market -- has arguably been the most impressive of any high-tech company this year.

In the less-impressive category is Ram Mobile Data, a partnership of Bell South and RAM Broadcasting Corp., which operates a wireless data network in 7,700 cities. Wireless data services have suffered from consultant hype, immature technology and excessive cost. So RAM has hired as CEO and President Bill Lenahan, a former CEO of Sears Business Centers and Sears Office Centers, "to transform a burgeoning technology enterprise...into a powerful, mature, comprehensive business organization," according to a company press release. We'll see.


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