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Monorail speeds sealed PC

An Atlanta start-up beats the heavyweights to the punch by introducing a sealed-case PC in time for Thanksgiving.

An Atlanta start-up will beat the heavyweights to the punch by introducing a sealed-case PC in time for Thanksgiving.

Monorail, a company started by former Compaq Computer executives, has a sealed-case system with a keyboard, color monitor, CD-ROM drive, and Microsoft Windows 95 installed--all for $999.

The company will beat Intel and Cyrix to market with their version of the easy-to-use PC. Intel will have its product on shelves by early 1997, and Cyrix plans to sell the PC by this Christmas.

Cofounder and board member Dave Hocker said the product is targeted at first-time PC buyers who want a full-featured computer that they can grow with but do not want the complexity normally associated with PCs.

Included in the PC--which stands vertically from a small base and measures about 12 by 16 inches--is an easy software start-up kit that even allows a user to sign up with an Internet service provider and log on to the Net within 15 minutes.

The introductory model also includes a 75-MHz processor from Advanced Micro Devices, 16MB of memory, stereo speakers, and a 33.6-kbps modem.

Hocker says the company can offer a lot of features at a low cost by keeping fixed costs and inventory down. The company is using a sales approach similar to that used by Dell Computer, in which a PC is not assembled until an order is received.

Monorail will also sell the system in consumer stores; in that case, dealers will have new Monorail PCs shipped quickly once inventory is depleted, rather than trying to predict how the market will respond to the product.

The company's distribution model is tied to Federal Express so that PCs can be quickly shipped from a contracted factory to the customer.

Hocker said Monorail would start with one product but would likely expand models to include more powerful processors and other features.