In Business This Week: HEADLINER: DOUGLAS ENGELBART
THE MAN BEHIND THE MOUSE
Of all the pioneers of personal computers and the Web, Douglas Engelbart may be the poorest and least-known. But the man who invented the mouse is finally winning recognition as the 1997 winner of the Lemelson-MIT prize--a $500,000 jackpot awarded annually to an American inventor.
Engelbart, 72, began his work in 1951. In the 1960s, at Stanford Research Institute, his inventions included on-screen windows with menus, groupware, and hypertext. He came up with the mouse in 1963, carving the first one from wood. He got no royalties, though, because researchers then assigned patents to their employers.
Engelbart says his big frustration is that his inventions have never fulfilled his dream: having computers help solve society's problems. He still promotes his ideals through the Bootstrap Institute, a think tank he founded in 1989. Compared with the challenges ahead, he warns, "everything in the past is peanuts."EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLAND By Otis PortReturn to top
A NEW HOME FOR TAMBRANDS
AFTER YEARS OF ATTEMPTS to reverse a slide, Tambrands has found a buyer. The company, which saw earnings drop 12% to $82.8 million on revenues of $662 million in 1996, has been losing a price war to rivals such as Playtex and Kimberly-Clark. In February, CEO Edward Fogarty approached Procter & Gamble about a buyout, and the two announced a $1.85 billion deal on Apr. 9. The move puts Procter back in the tampon business for the first time since its Rely brand was pulled in 1980 after two dozen women who used tampons died from toxic shock syndrome. Procter plans to sell Tampax as a complement to its existing feminine-hygiene products, particularly in Asia and Latin America.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
QUALCOMM SPARS WITH MOTOROLA
QUALCOMM HAS ITS SHARE OF headaches, and it can trace them to one source: Motorola. In February, Motorola sued Qualcomm, claiming it had copied Motorola's StarTac handsets. Then, on Apr. 8, Motorola said it will no longer use Qualcomm chips for its digital wireless phones. But on Apr. 7, Qualcomm said it had won a temporary restraining order barring Motorola from saying Qualcomm "in any way unlawfully relied on Motorola" technology for its digital phones. A San Diego court will rule Apr. 17 on making the order permanent.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
LOWERING THE MERGER HURDLE
BUSINESS GOT A BREAK FROM federal trustbusters on Apr. 8, when the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Dept. issued more liberal guidelines for merger reviews. The feds will weigh efficiencies that might result from a merger--not just anticompetitive effects. While the feds have long factored in efficiencies, the new rules give business needed guidance on the types of efficiencies that matter most to regulators. The most desirable: streamlining that enhances the new company's ability to compete, resulting in lower prices and better products and services.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
AN OVERHAUL AT DOW JONES
DOW JONES HAS SAID it will spend $650 million to revamp Dow Jones Markets, its financial data delivery service formerly known as Telerate. On Apr. 8, it revealed just how it plans to do that. Through a broad alliance with Microsoft, Dow Jones will retool the service to deliver information over the Internet, using Microsoft software. That means traders will no longer need a separate box on their desks to see Telerate financial information. The overhaul is expected to be complete by 2000.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top