Rumors of the demise of Motorola Inc.'s 68000 family of microprocessors appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Although the chips serve as the brains of Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh computers and a vast array of consumer and office products, many market watchers have expected Motorola to start concentrating on PowerPC, a higher-performance chip developed jointly with IBM. But with 68000 sales expected to rise from 25 million units last year to 41 million this year, the company says it is clearly not the end of the line.

On May 17, the company plans to unveil five additions to the line. Two of the chips are aimed at Compact Disk-Interactive players, devices that use compact disks for games, music, and information. Another two chips will target personal digital communicators, an emerging class of portable computing devices. The fifth chip is for the more mature but still-growing portable-computer market. Especially interesting: the chip for the personal communicators. Developed for General Magic Inc., a software maker that has the support of Apple, AT&T, Sony, and Matsushita, the new chip could be a big seller if the market for personal communicators takes off as predicted.

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