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There's no such thing as a free PC. One year ago, idealab-backed Free-PC shook up the market with its offer to give away PCs with free Web access to consumers who would accept targeted ads. But Free-PC last year generated revenue of only $1.2 million, largely from banner ads, and lost $29.8 million. PC seller eMachines last month bought Free-PC, scrubbed future PC giveaways and on Feb. 14 will halt free Web access for Free-PC's 25,000 customers. EMachines will use Free-PC's expertise to help develop a "hardware portal," selling Web advertising and e-commerce programs. It's sold so-called hot keys on its keyboard to Amazon.com, eBay and GoTo.

Creative agency great and renowned technophobe Rich Silverstein--who for years refused to give up his drafting table to art direct on a screen--now actually owns a home computer, one of his associates reports. "He's out there surfing every night," the associate says of the co-creative director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. Mr. Silverstein still refuses to have a computer in his office even though one of the shop's main clients is Hewlett-Packard Co. He hadn't returned calls at deadline.

Exile on 7th Avenue has opened as a spinoff from broken up San Francisco i-shop Left Field. The name came from the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street." The shop is on SF's Main Street, but agency chief Michael McMahon started on the city's Seventh Avenue. The new name is totally out of Left Field.

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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