January 29, 1996

Internet Browser Terminal Prototypes to Be Unveiled


SAN FRANCISCO -- The much-debated $500 Internet browser terminal will make its first appearance Monday at a computer industry conference in Southern California, as Sun Microsystems and Oracle introduce prototypes of the machines.

The industry has been divided on whether the machines, which will give users a window into the World Wide Web but not all the functionality of a personal computer, make any commercial sense.

The Sun system will be a research prototype; the company is making 300 of the systems to be used internally. A 5-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch box, it will include a microprocessor and computer memory, but not a storage disk. The system will require a monitor, which is not included, and must be attached to a local area network, the only way in which it can reach the Internet.

People familiar with the Sun system said it was intended only as a World Wide Web browser and to run programs written in the Java programming language developed at Sun.

Java is designed to make it possible to safely transmit programs over a computer network to do a variety of tasks, like animation or permitting a computer user to fill out a form.

While Sun takes a desktop approach, Oracle is apparently pursuing a wireless portable device that would give a user access to the Internet and data bases while traveling.

The computers will be shown at a computer conference called Demo 96, held outside Palm Springs.

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