In an effort to give its Unix operating system a big send-off before it gets transferred to Novell Inc., American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is throwing a formal dinner on Mar. 17 at the Uniforum trade show in San Francisco. Invited guests include hundreds of computer executives from customer companies and those who have helped Unix System Laboratories Inc. over the years. Last December, AT&T agreed to sell its rights to Unix to Novell Inc., which is now girding for battle with Microsoft Corp.'s forthcoming Windows NT. Indeed, Microsoft is expected to use the same trade show to begin making a play for Unix customers.

To keep up with his new competition, Microsoft Chairman William H. Gates III might think about brushing up his show-biz skills, however. Following the AT&T dinner, some of the top executives from companies that sell Unix are expected to join in on a musical-comedy parody of the computer business being produced by Open Systems Today, a trade magazine published in Manhasset, N.Y. Among the expected techno-hams: Sun Microsystems CEO Scott G. McNealy, NCR CEO Gilbert P. Williamson, and Roel Pieper, president of Unix System Laboratories, the unit Novell will soon take control of.

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