With This Card Catalog, Who Needs A Library?

In the past five years, Franklin Electronic Publishers Inc. has convinced quite a few people that its handheld electronic dictionaries and spell-checkers are handier than conventional reference works are: It has sold more than 5 million of the gadgets. And now, the Mount Holly (N.J.) company's latest portable unit might have even more folks looking to their hands for help.

Like Franklin's earlier devices, the Digital Book System, or DBS-1, has a small keyboard and LCD display and is about the size of a 3/4-inch stack of index cards. But unlike its predecessors, which have a single set of information permanently stored in them, the DBS-1 can search data on removable "memory cards." The cards measure just 1 inch by 2 inches yet can hold more than 45 megabytes of information--enough to hold 7,000 brief movie synopses, for example. What's more, since the DSB-1, costing $200, accepts two cards at once, it can mix and match data bases. Insert an English-Spanish card in one slot and an English-French card in the other, and voila: a Spanish-French translator.

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