Big Blue Is Giving Its Archrival A Big Boost

It's apparently the largest data processing project of all time--at least, the largest of those discussed outside top-secret intelligence circles. It's part of NASA's proposed Earth Observing System (EOS), a collection of satellites scanning the globe's surface and atmosphere that will collect as many as 2 trillion bytes of data every day. That's enough to fill about 1.4 million floppy disks, and NASA wants all EOS data to remain available to researchers for at least 15 years.

How much will NASA pay for EOS computers and data-storage equipment? It's not announcing the winning bids from contractors until mid-July. But that's not stopping Storage Technology Corp. from making what hay it can from the situation now. One of the final bidders on the computing portion of EOS is TRW Inc., which plans to subcontract a good deal of the work to IBM. IBM, in turn, would subcontract a massive videotape-based data-storage system to StorageTek, its archrival in large data-storage systems. Capitalizing on the irony of the situation, StorageTek stipulated in its contract that Big Blue publicize its choice of StorageTek by sending out press releases to two newspapers: The Wall Street Journal and Electronic News, an industry weekly.

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