Oracle to debut $500 network computer

A prototype of Oracle's much talked about but so far little seen $500 Internet PC will be demonstrated to the U.S. public for the first time today in San Francisco.

A prototype of Oracle's much talked about but so far little seen $500 Internet PC will be demonstrated to the U.S. public for the first time today in San Francisco.

The Oracle Network Computer (NC) is designed as a low-cost alternative to PCs for Net surfing, email, word processing, and other tasks that don't demand the processing power that a real PC offers. The device will come with a small footprint operating system called the NCOS, but because the device won't have a hard drive, users will download applications from the Net at run time instead of installing software locally.

The device will include a modem connection, keyboard, mouse, and jacks and cables that can connect the CPU to either regular televisions or PC monitors. The box is about 12 inches on a side.

Other companies, including IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Toshiba, say they are working on similar Internet terminals but Oracle is expected to reach for the lead today in bringing its network computer to the mass market.

The prototype was demonstrated to Japanese customers earlier this year.

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