Why Ace May Be In The Hole

Last April, it looked like a whole new game for the computer industry. A group of 21 companies, boasting such heavyweights as Compaq, Microsoft, and Digital Equipment, announced plans to come up with a single computer design for everything from personal computers to mainframes, all running the same software. The bold idea was to create an "industry standard" similar to the IBM PC, the world's most popular computer design. Only this time, a broad coalition of companies, not just Big Blue, would call the shots. The initiative, dubbed Advanced Computing Environment (ACE), was impressive enough to prod mighty IBM and Apple Computer Inc. into teaming up last summer to start creating their own standard.

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