Tandy set to close 100 of its...


Tandy set to close 100 of its retail stores

Tandy Corp. announced plans last week to close 100 retail stores and spin off manufacturing operations.

The closings are not expected to include any of the company's 7,000 Radio Shack stores. Instead, they will take place in the 413 stores that make up the company's "brand-name" group -- retailers such as the MacDuff Supercenters or Video Concepts.

The new manufacturing operation, called TE Electronics Inc., will be publicly traded. It will include Tandy subsidiaries O'Sullivan Industries, which produces office furniture, and computer maker Grid Systems Corp.

Prodigy to lay off 250 of its 1,100 workers

The news was also glum at Prodigy Services Co., which is not quite the bright student that partners Sears and IBM were hoping for.

Prodigy, which runs a home-oriented computer information network, said it would lay off 250 of its 1,100 employees and transfer 65 employees, along with their duties, to a Sears subsidiary.

"We aim to be much more nimble and responsive," Prodigy President Ross Glatzer said.

Sears also announced last week that it would sell off its Sears Business Centers unit, which markets computers and services to businesses. The buyer, Omaha-based Inacom Corp., operates 48 company-owned stores, 195 franchised stores and more than 700 independent resellers.

Students learning latest in computing

One clue to the shaky status of the simple Prodigy service might be found in the labs of the nation's high schools, where more and more students are becoming comfortable with the state of the art in computing.

Perhaps the most ambitious project is the National Education Supercomputer Program, run by the Department of Energy. The program runs a Cray X-MP-18 supercomputer, donated by Cray Research Inc., at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California for the use of high schools throughout the country.

In Maryland, science teacher Robert Evans at the Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville coaches bright students who use the supercomputer for such chores as three-dimensional animation or simulating climate changes on an imaginary planet.

"The purpose is to give them a taste of what it's like and let their imaginations go," Mr. Evans said.

One student, Mr. Evans said, has an avid interest in filmmaking and animation; "He may be the next Steven Spielberg."

Steven Fried of the Department of Energy noted that a couple dozen students get to travel to the Livermore center each summer for hands-on experience.

Meanwhile, over at Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County, federal funds are being sought to spread an innovative math and science program to other schools via computer networking.

At the National Information Technology Center in Gaithersburg, one of the partners in the project, Vice President Henry Schlenker, said that the National Science Foundation is considering a request for $1.2 million over three years.

The money would be used to train teachers and to set up a statewide electronic forum using part of the conglomeration of networks known as the Internet. Then the "problem-solving" teaching approach used at Montgomery Blair would be extended to other state schools.

One more note on education: Some Baltimore-area schools will send staff to a seminar on computers in high schools Friday at Villa Julie College. The seminar will cover such topics as using data bases on the Internet and using 21st-century technology on a limited budget.

Old Dominion wins 4 contracts from APL

Germantown's Microlog Corp. said that its subsidiary Old Dominion Systems Inc. of Maryland won four contracts from the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. The main contract for systems engineering, programming, operations engineering and data management services will be worth $3.5 million over three years. The others are for services as needed.

Microprose to develop software for 3DO

Microprose Inc. of Hunt Valley has signed an agreement to develop software for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer. The multimedia machine from the 3DO Corp. will use CD-ROMs and custom animation circuits to provide much greater detail than current video game machines.

Semiconductor firms post strong results

The semiconductor industry reported a strong book-to-bill ratio of 1.13 in December, meaning $113 worth of orders were received for every $100 in chips shipped. Orders for the month totaled $1.92 billion, up 38 percent from last December.

Basking in the glow is Intel Corp., whose fourth-quarter report of a 127% leap in earnings helped propel its stock up $13, to $111.75, last week.

But while Intel has thrived on sales led by demand for its 80486 microprocessor, IBM is the leader in revenue generated by semiconductors.

IBM's semiconductor unit generated about $8 billion in sales in 1992, compared with revenue of about $5.8 billion for Intel, according to Bloomberg Business News. Almost all of the semiconductors IBM produced were used by its other units.

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