|Volume 2: No. 06|
President Bush made two mentions of R&D in his State of the Union address: he wants to make the R&D tax credit permanent, and he proposes $76B in federal support of R&D. Budget numbers show that $38B is for defense-related R&D, and that federal civilian R&D will remain almost constant except for NASA. [Michael Schrage. SJM, 2/3.]
The U.S. government is increasing funding of high-performance computing by 30% this year, to $638M, to reach $1B over five years. NREN will be a supercomputing network, but either the government or commercial vendors will have to build a separate national network. "We will be short some millions of technicians by the end of this decade," says D. Allan Bromley, director of OSTP. The government is considering increased support for two- year colleges. [Ware Myers, Computer, 1/92.]
Belgium has greatly reduced support for basic research, especially in the Flemish northern region near Flanders. The National Fund for Scientific Research (NFWO/FNRS) has been split into French and Flemish parts, corresponding to Wallonia and Flanders regions of about 5M inhabitants each. The French- speaking government is strengthening its part of NFWO to more closely approach the 1% of GNP spent on research by neighboring France, Holland, Germany, and the UK. The Flemish government is cutting support for its part of the agency, ending long-term contracts and cutting research-center overhead budgets by 80%. Universities are also faring badly, and young researchers will have to emigrate. Should you wish to express support for basic research, write to Focus Research, Triomflaan 63, B-1160 Brussels, Belgium. [Francis Heylighen (firstname.lastname@example.org), CYBSYS-L, 1/29.]
Prof. Soo-Young Lee (email@example.com) of the KAIST EE Computation and Neural Systems Lab would like leads to neural- network market surveys that would help his proposal for a big Korean national project on intelligent computers. [Neuron Digest, 1/29.] There might be a ground-floor opportunity here.
India has relaxed restrictions on foreign companies, allowing them to operate directly instead of through subsidiaries, own property, borrow money, and sell under their internationally known trademarks. The U.S. is applying pressure for trademark, patent, and copyright protection, with trade sanctions threatened for 2/26. [NYT. SJM, 1/31.]
The Central Weather Bureau of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has ordered two Y-MP supercomputers. [CW, 1/20.] Might be a customer for pattern-recognition or neural-network R&D.
The Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Partnership for Education, administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is sponsoring partnerships between NSF-funded university research centers (at $100K over two years) and research centers in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. A project on multimedia, multilingual knowledge-based engineering is being conducted by UPittsburgh's Parallel, Distributed and Intelligent Systems Center, UMalaysia's Dept. of Mathematics, and the National University of Singapore's Institute of Systems Science. [Spectrum, 1/92.] (It's not big money, but you can tap pots like that when you've got a big center.)
IBM is purchasing between 5% and 10% of France's Groupe Bull, giving Bull access to IBM's RISC technology and joint operating system development with Apple. HP was a disappointed Bull suitor. [SJM, 1/29.]
As clones and hardware from the East cut into U.S. profit margins, computer companies are moving toward the lucrative U.S.-controlled software market. Nearly everyone is supporting Unix, but they are also working on next-generation proprietary operating systems. Windows and its applications remain strong sellers. C++ is the most popular object-oriented language, and will have templates and run-time exception handling by the end of 1992. Object-oriented databases are becoming available. Ada remains a sensible option for embedded systems and large-scale projects, and Ada 9X will have object-oriented support. CAD utilities and tools will out-pace monolithic CAD frameworks (as the tools have a larger market). [Richard Comerford and Wayne H. Wolf, Spectrum, 1/92.] Unix (or Posix) is also winning on mainframes, which are often losing money as they get "cheaper, smaller, faster, larger," and massively parallel.
Whatever happened to IBM's SAA? It was intended to be a proprietary operating systems architecture, but has merged with AIX and evolved into IBM's version of open systems. It now includes more than 90 implementations of national and international standards, and links such products as MVS, DB2, OS2, and Microsoft Windows. It's also moving into object- oriented interfaces (CUA '91), and may set the standard there. IBM will likely market the services under other names, but the functionality is here and will continue to evolve. [Sam Albert, CW, 1/20.]
IBM's educational systems division has been doing so well -- 25% market share -- that it's being spun out as a wholly owned subsidiary called EduQuest. [Deidre A. Depke, BW, 2/3.]
American Express is selling minority equity in its Information Services Corp., and is renaming it First Data Corp. [AP. SF Chronicle, 2/4.]
Bill Gates is dismissing Michael R. Hallman and has given up on finding an outside "white knight" to run Microsoft. Operation of the $2.3B company will now be split among Michael J. Maples (Applications Software), Steven A. Ballmer (Operating Systems), and Francis j. Gaudette (CFO). [John Markoff, NYT. SF Chronicle, 2/4.]
Apple has promoted David Nagle to Senior VP for Advanced Technology, which gives him a seat in the company's executive management committee. Nagle has been active in the IBM alliance and in Apple's Consumer Products Division. Hew was formerly a research scientist and head of Human Factors Research at NASA Ames. [SF Chronicle, 1/29.]
Metaphor Computer Systems has promoted Charles H. Irby to Senior VP of Development and director, as well as CTO. He was previously chief designer of the Star user interface at Xerox PARC. [SJM, 1/31.] (Interface design leadership seems to be a good route into top management.)