DID YOU HEAR?

It was no practical joke; on April 1 Lotus Development Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.) announced the delivery of Release 5 (R5) of its Notes client, Domino servers and Domino Designer. R5 became the latest version Lotus's product line for information management, messaging, collaboration and Web application development. Wasting no time, Lotus also announced the North American portion of Super.Human.Software Tour '99, an aggressive round of one-day conferences and exhibitions covering 13 cities from April 6 through September 16. These seminars are expected to capitalize on the momentum built around the company's ambitious launch of R5. The conference is organized around three key technology tracks: messaging and migration; Web application development; and Lotus 2000 product offerings -- such as eSuite, Sametime, Domino.Doc, LearningSpace and QuickPlace.

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In early March, IBM and Dell Computer Corporation announced a strategic $16 billion technology pact, believed to be the largest agreement of its kind in the information technology industry, according to IBM reports. As part of the contract, Dell will purchase storage, microelectronics, networking, and display technology from IBM for integration into Dell computer systems. In the future, the agreement is expected to include IBM's copper, silicon-on-insulator, and other advanced technologies. The arrangement, which spans seven years, also calls for broad patent cross-licensing between the two companies and collaboration on development of product technology. Initially, Dell will have access to IBM's high capacity disk drives, network adapter cards, flat panel displays, high performance static random access memory (SRAM) and custom chips.

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Yahoo Inc. purchased Internet media company Broadcast.com in early April for $5.7 billion in a stock deal expected to bring a broad selection of audio and video programming to its Internet portal, according to a report from InformationWeek Online. Broadcast.com aggregates and transmits across the Internet programming ranging from Major League Baseball to audio books. It also provides video and audio conferencing services to corporations. The acquisition indicates Yahoo is attempting to buy some lead-time over rival Internet portals, such as NetScape NetCenter, Go Network and AOL.

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The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will soon become the first state to purchase supplies in an online auction, according to a report from InformationWeek Online. In a pilot program announced in February by Gov. Tom Ridge, the state's Department of General Services has contracted with FreeMarkets OnLine Inc. to procure goods in scheduled online bidding events. The state is the first public-sector customer for FreeMarkets, which manages online bidding of purchasing contracts for industrial companies such as Westinghouse Electric Co. and First Energy Corp. Last year, FreeMarkets reportedly managed online auctions resulting in more than $500 million worth of industrial purchases. The research process is already under way for Pennsylvania's three-month pilot. Products the state may purchase in online auctions could range from coal to office supplies. "We expect to save millions as a result," Ridge said when he announced the deal in his annual state budget address. "That's the power of E-commerce."

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The number of Americans who subscribe to mobile telephone service grew a record 25 percent in 1998 to 69.2 million, according to research conducted by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. The association's statistics indicate a net gain of nearly 14 million wireless subscribers for 1998, exceeding the industry's own estimates by two million subscribers. The figure well surpasses the approximately 67 million Americans who subscribe to cable television service.

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is expected to approve a standard this fall that will let companies support Gigabit Ethernet over twisted-pair wire, preventing the need to install more expensive fiber-optic cable. The proposed standard had widespread support and could yield compliant products by year's end. If it passes, companies with Category 5 twisted-pair wiring throughout will be able to support Gigabit Ethernet wherever needed at distances up to 100 meters.