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Santa’s Elves Answer Letters in Nanoseconds

December 11, 1990

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ In these days of megabytes and disk drives, writing a letter to Santa Claus just won’t do.

So Santa has upgraded to a computer and now receives and answers wish lists by electronic mail with some assistance from a few computer-literate elves.

Santa went from a jolly old elf to a computer wizard with the help of Joyce Perkins, creator of the On-Line Santa Project.

Ms. Perkins teaches business computer applications at the El Paso Technical Center, part of the public school system.

A few weeks back, she set up Santa’s mailbag on a computer bulletin board. A bulletin board is a service computer users dial up to share information and programs and contact each other.

Ms. Perkins also enlisted her students as Santa’s elves to reply to all the letters that come in by modem, a device that lets computers communicate via phone lines.

Santa’s electronic mailbox is overloading with wish lists from children engaging in Yuletide log-ons.

″We’ve had a ball,″ said Ms. Perkins. ″It’s taken off and gone crazy.″

Every day, the elves divide the messages, making sure Santa’s mail is answered quickly. They sign their messages with names such as Frost-byte, Skippy Chips, Clickey Mouse and Nanosecond Nic.

″It’s fun being able to chat with little kids,″ said Angel Locklear, a senior at Austin High. ″They’re learning, and we’re helping build up their dreams.″

Among the requests for new bikes, talking dolls and electric trains, came one appeal for 16,000 Nintendo cassettes.

″Aren’t we being a little greedy,″ one of the elves messaged back.

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