Columbia firm finds a way to make...


Columbia firm finds a way to make 'gold'

A small Columbia software house has found a way to turn lead (and steel and aluminum . . .) into gold.

Consolidated Resources Inc. markets a software package called ScrapMaster, created for the Apple Macintosh in 1990, that handles the problems of cash and inventory management in the recycling industry. Now the company's system includes a cash dispenser to provide better accounting and security at recycling centers.

"The problem our clients have is that money is constantly disappearing," said Joseph Floam, Consolidated's president. But with the new system, the employee just keys in the type of scrap being purchased and piles it on the scale. The computer calculates the value and spits out the payoff.

Using a personal computer, "the owner . . . can call up the cash dispenser from his house" to check the day's transactions, Mr. Floam said. And for added security, a client can have an armored-truck company deliver preloaded cartridges for the Diebold Inc. dispensers.

Mr. Floam said Consolidated, with a staff of six, has sales approaching $1 million.

The company recently introduced ScrapMaster PC, a version that runs on IBM-PC compatibles, including a rugged, hand-held machine made by Idaho Electronics. And it's eyeing other markets where cash needs to be controlled, such as dog-racing tracks or check-cashing centers.

Intel delays issue of Pentium chip

We'll have to wait a little while longer for Intel Corp.'s big gun. The integrated circuit manufacturer has confirmed that its new Pentium chip won't be on the market until May 20, a delay of two months.

Industry observers say that with sales of the 486 chip still going strong, Intel has no reason to rush the Pentium to market. But the decision is likely to incense computer designers who hurried to make new circuits in hopes of being among the first in the market to sell the Pentium's power.

It may be that Intel is working on design changes to keep the chip running cool.

It uses three times as much power as a 486, prompting one wag in an industry magazine to hint at a new Pentium-based file server and coffee maker.

Bell Atlantic offers interchange software

Bell Atlantic Corp. has introduced software that will help companies exchange documents such as purchase orders and invoices electronically.

The new version of the IntelliTrade PLUS software has a tool that takes information from common business computer programs and puts them into the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) format. The EDI, or X.12, format is a national standard that spells out the organization of about 170 different types of documents.

Bell Atlantic licensed the new tool from PaperFree Systems Inc. of Washington.

Bell Atlantic's IntelliTrade products include both the software and a store-and-forward system that's used to exchange documents in the EDI format.

IntelliTrade project manager Marjorie MacArthur offered a typical scenario for using the system: To cut the paperwork involved in dealing with small- to midsized vendors, a large company might insist that orders be handled using the EDI standard.

First Step Computers gets education market

The new official sales agent for the Apple education market in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia is First Step Computers of Richmond, Va.

First Step will handle the Maryland kindergarten-through-12th-grade market from an office in Bethesda.

Traffic-monitoring system gets patent

Most drivers have found themselves trapped in gridlock, at one time or another, while an earnest traffic reporter warns of a tie-up miles away.

Why, we cry, didn't someone tell us about THIS?

Someday, maybe someone will. A Rockville company, Farradyne Systems, has patented plans for a system that could monitor traffic throughout a city and broadcast advice to drivers who need it.

The first part of Farradyne's system is a method for distilling reports of traffic conditions from a welter of sources into a summary coded by geographic area.

The summary weights different sources according to the value of the information.

The second part of the system involves extracting information according to both the part of town and the direction of the traffic.

Then, warnings could be sent to cars' on-board computers, which would know their locations through radio systems.

Cellular phone scam investigated

Imagine this: You just bought a 1,000-krona cellular phone for your travels around Stockholm and you hear that the radio waves are suspected of causing brain tumors. What could be worse?

Try coming home to a $70,000 phone bill.

Thousands of Swedes were taken for such a ride in recent months by a crime syndicate that stole cellular phones, reprogrammed them with legitimate codes, and sold them as "charge-free" phones.

Police have detained 10 people so far; some of the suspects have ties to Televerket, the government-owned phone company.

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