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Wal-Mart to sell PCs for under $1,000

Wal-Mart Stores will sell full-fledged PCs made by AST Research that will cost less than $1,000.

    As Oracle and partners get ready to pitch their $500 Network Computers, Wal-Mart Stores is preparing to sell full-fledged PCs made by AST Research that will cost only $497 more.

    AST has started shipping its $997 Advantage PCs to the 2,200-store Wal-Mart chain, where they will go on sale later this month.

    The machines are aimed at households that do not yet own a computer, the same market that Oracle and company are chasing. Market research firm Dataquest estimates that about 29 percent of American homes had a computer in 1995 and that 33 percent will have one by the end of 1996.

    But AST is betting that low-end buyers want more than Net surfing and email. Advantage comes equipped with 8MB of memory and Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system, along with word-processing, personal finance, and multimedia game software.