Gerstner pushes network

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IBM Corp. Chairman-CEO Louis V. Gerstner Jr., in his keynote at the huge Comdex/Fall convention in Las Vegas Monday, predicted that the PC will be supplanted by simpler devices tied to a network, a new twist on the old model of "dumb" terminals connecting to a mainframe.

IBM, having squandered its early PC lead, is poised to be one of the leaders in the networking age, Mr. Gerstner argued. He predicted the new networking model would take off first in business and only then in the consumer market. Mr. Gerstner implied the networking approach might mean the end of industry domination by Microsoft Corp. When companies control an industry standard, he said, "It's in their best interest to maintain the status quo...Having had a near-death experience (at IBM), we know what we're talking about."

For the first time, all three major TV networks sent camera crews to cover Comdex this week, another indication of how computers have gone mainstream. Even MTV is on hand, to cover PC Magazine's awards ceremonies. And Cable's PCTV is airing the Tuesday night keynote speech by Microsoft boss Bill Gates.

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