We’ve already talked about the latest networking technologies from Motorola and possibly Apple, but other truly neat technologies have recently shown up.
Storage-wise, we haven’t heard anything more about Canon’s optical card, but Intel should be shipping new Flash Memory Cards in a month or so. These cards are non-volatile, memory IC cards and come in 1 and 4 meg models. In theory, the cards are DOS-compatible storage devices, but currently there isn’t any way to alter data at the file level, so they are limited to storing programs and read-only documents. Eventually, there should be no difference between a Flash Memory Card and any other storage device, at which point they might even show up in a future Macintosh laptop.
We also heard a bit about something called optical paper, which is a flexible mylar film that can have data written onto it with a laser. The laser makes permanent holes in the film, so the optical paper is a new example of WORM technology. It sounds like it could replace magnetic tape archives for mainframe type computers, but we suspect that microcomputer applications of the technology would not be far behind.
Another new technology isn’t being used to store data (though that’s not an impossibility), but can be used for numerous other applications. A new class of plastic-like polymers can conduct electricity when properly doped with certain chemicals. One initial use for the polymers has been in rechargeable batteries, but the polymers have a host of other abilities, including the ability to shrink and grow, to change colors, and to emit light. That last ability has prompted some people to look into ways of using the polymers in computer screens, though researchers haven’t yet found a way to prevent the electrical features of the polymers from disappearing over time, especially in the presence of heat or air. One IBM research scientist said in the Wall Street Journal that IBM is looking into ways to use the polymers in conventional computer chips.
Intel — 800/548-4725
Adam C. Engst — TidBITS Editor
InfoWorld — 08-Oct-90, Vol. 12, #41, pg. 25
Wall Street Journal — 11-Oct-90, pg. B1