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Bell Labs preps Java rival

Researchers at AT&T Bell Labs have been quietly working for the last nine months on a project designed to take on Sun Microsystems' Java programming language.

SAN FRANCISCO--Researchers at AT&T Bell Labs have been quietly working for the last nine months on a project designed to take on Sun Microsystems' Java programming language.

Dennis Ritchie, creator of Unix and the C programming language, and a team of ten Bell Labs scientists developed the project, code-named Inferno. Ritchie revealed details about the Inferno plan at the UniForum trade show here this week, a Bell Labs spokesperson confirmed.

Bell Labs' plans for marketing Inferno are still unclear: Ritchie's group is soon to be transferred to Lucent Technologies because of the recent AT&T restructuring, and AT&T is expected to soon become a Java licensee itself. Ritchie did not indicate how much longer it may take to complete the Inferno project.

But Ritchie said this week that Inferno could be used in a wide variety of machines, including television sets and PCs, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

Ritchie is careful to not criticize Sun's Java development work, but opted against collaborating with Sun on the Inferno project and suggested that Java has become too complex, the Mercury said.