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CES REPORT: Compaq's Pfeiffer gives keynote

Compaq's president and CEO, Eckhard Pfeiffer, gave a keynote speech here this morning in which he said the PC is becoming the centerpiece for home computing and that by 1998 half of American households will own at least one PC.

LAS VEGAS--In his keynote speech here this morning, Compaq president and CEO, Eckhard Pfeiffer, said that the PC is rapidly becoming the centerpiece for both computing and consumer electronics. He also predicted that future users will have room-specific PCs for the home.

"The PC's life-changing power is not lost on people. More and more people aspire to buy a PC mainly for education purposes," said Pfeiffer. He added that by 1998 half of American households will own at least one PC.

Last night's unveiling of the Fisher-Price/Compaq Wonder Tools line clearly illustrates the changing nature of the PC, said Pfeiffer. The evolution of the PC won't stop in the playroom, however.

At Compaq's CES booth, the company is showing off an interactive house with automated climate control, lighting, and other features. A new technology called CE Bus used with Compaq PCs linked via a LAN controls the house functions. The CE Bus will be incorporated in some PCs and appliances by the end of the year, Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer revealed that Compaq is currently working on several new PC technologies, including a scanner to be incorporated into Presario keyboards, and rewritable optical CD-ROM drives. The company is also working on speaker-independent speech recognition that will dynamically adjust vocabulary as needed and experimenting with large screen PC TVs.

Pfeiffer said low-cost Internet appliances will open up a huge new market opportunity. "We believe low-cost Net appliances have merit; they will offer lower functionality at a lower cost, appealing primarily to consumers looking for a communications tool," he said. Pfeiffer estimated that these devices will cost between $500 and $1,000. The CEO revealed that Compaq and other companies are working to create standards to build such devices.