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Commodore 64 to be Relaunched

The Commodore 64 is one of the first mass-market personal computers that was embraced by the public in the 1980s. Commodore International sold more than 17 million systems, making it the best-selling single computer model of all time. Commodore International went bankrupt in 1994, but Commodore USA, will release retro computers in June that look just like that distinctive keyboard.  The computers will contain a dual-core 1.8 GHz Atom processor, an Nvidia Ion2 graphics chipset, up to 4 GB of RAM, and other modern hardware. The basic system, minus monitor and mouse, will sell for US$595, as did the original machine. Barry Altman, the company’s president and chief executive officer, originally sought to license the Commodore name, but tells CNN he “changed his mind after being flooded with requests on his website.” In the first days of presales Altman says the company logged roughly 20,000 orders per day. Altman says the VIC as well as Amiga will also be eventually re-released. (CNN)(Rolling Stone)(Commodore USA)

Computer on a USB Designed to Teach Programming

Although organizations have been trying to get low-cost computers in the hands of schoolchildren worldwide, the cost and size of a newly announced device could enable a UK-based group to give away computers. The Raspberry Pi Foundation created a computer with a USB-sized form factor. On one end is a USB port, on the other an HDMI port for plugging in a monitor. Between the two ends is a 700 MHz ARM11 processor with 128MB of SDRAM, which enables the computer to run an open source operating system and applications. It is reportedly equipped with Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, and Python. The product, which costs roughly £15 (USD$25) each, is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen, which would give the user a low-cost tablet computer. The device would be given to children to help them understand and learn programming. David Braben, a game developer, said the foundation wants to stop the plummeting interest in computer science in the UK. He says the national secondary school curriculum focuses more on applications used in office settings than actual computer sciences, which has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in applications to university-level computer science programs. Raspberry Pi plans a 12-month trial of the computer while it works with industry and the government on mass production of the computer and implementing it in schools. (BBC)(Time Magazine)(TechEYE)(The Raspberry Pi Foundation)

Flexible Smartphone Prototype to be Shown

A prototype flexible smartphone created using electronic paper will be shown this week at a Canadian computing conference. The PaperPhone is able to carry out various commands based on the way it is bent, folded, or flexed. The device was created by researchers from the Human Media Lab at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada and Arizona State University and is reportedly based on the e-ink technology found in Amazon's Kindle e-book reader. The material is bonded to flex sensors and a touch screen. The latter element is able to interpret drawings and text written on the 3.7-inch diagonal display. The researchers are also working on a device called Snaplet, which functions as a watch when convex, a PDA when flat, and a phone when concave. The technologies will be displayed next week at the ACM Computer Human Interaction conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. (BBC)(United Press International)(Human Media Lab, Queen's University)(“PaperPhone: Understanding the Use of Bend Gestures in Mobile Devices with Flexible Electronic Paper Displays,” CHI 2010)

Intel Announces 3D Design Ready for Fab

Intel has announced a new chip design based on 3D or tri-gate transistors that will improve performance and reduce power consumption. The technology can be used in various types of chips, including chips  used in servers to handheld consumer devices. Intel scientist Mark Bohr claims this will be the first 3D design in production and that it will be three years before competitors are able to produce similar products. “Everybody knows about the architecture, but they don't know how to manufacture it,” he said at a press conference. Observers suggest the product is designed to help Intel be more competitive in the tablet and smartphone markets. PC and server products based on the chips should be available late in the year or in early 2012. Mobile processors will follow to market. (Information Week)(Reuters)(The San Jose Mercury-News)

Leading Tech Firms Sued for Collusion on Employee Recruiting, Salaries

A class action suit filed in California alleges that major tech firms violated antitrust laws by fixing employee pay and entering into “no solicitation” agreements with one another. Executives from Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar reportedly “entered into an interconnected web of express agreements to eliminate competition among them for skilled labor” and also capped employee pay, resulting in a 10 to 15 percent cut in potential pay. The suit, brought by an ex-Lucasfilm employee, alleges that affected salaried employees from those companies who worked at the firms between 1 January 2005 and 1 January 2010 are entitled to compensation. The suit also alleges those firms previously investigated by the US Department of Justice for using “do not cold call” lists, which prevents companies from  hiring away staff from other firms, are still engaging in the practice, which Pixar and Lucasfilm first adopted in 2005. Other employers allegedly struck similar agreements. (ZDNet)(CNET)(Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein)

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