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Compaq, Fisher-Price Take Wraps Off New Computer Products for Kids

January 5, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Compaq Computer Corp. and Fisher-Price Inc. on Thursday showed off new computer accessories and programs for children aged 3 to 7.

The companies during the second half of 1996 will sell ``Wonder Tools,″ including a keyboard with oversized keys and a driving console with a steering wheel and horn.

The products, unveiled on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show, are the first in a collaborative effort the companies announced last fall. They will be sold in toy stores as well as computer stores.

Separately, another major PC maker, Packard Bell Electronics Inc. introduced six programs for children, the first from a new software division in the company. The programs will work with Apple Macintosh computers as well as the Windows-based machines that Packard Bell, Compaq and many others produce.

The efforts by Compaq and Packard Bell represent a new area of competition by the companies that are the leading sellers of Windows-based PCs to consumers.

Compaq has gone a step further in developing hardware accessories with Fisher-Price.

The most unusual is the ``Wonder Tools Cruiser,″ a $150 accessory that resembles a car dashboard and will let children navigate through new educational and game software the companies are designing. The first software, a program called ``Spruce Squirrel’s Hiccup Mix-Up,″ comes with the device.

In addition, Compaq and Fisher-Price will allow other software developers to create products that run with the new device.

``We are currently reviewing concepts from over 90 companies,″ said Celeste Dunn, the product manager for Compaq.

The ``Wonder Tools Keyboard″ will be priced at $130. It has oversize keys and special function buttons to work with the new software. The function buttons make it easier to perform such tasks as getting help or ending a program.

And, in case a child tries to pull the keyboard or driving console away from the computer, it has a special connection that will allow the parts to breakaway without harming the computer or software.

The companies plan a handful of CD-ROM titles by fall, including ones for learning the alphabet and writing stories.

Compaq chief executive Eckhard Pfeiffer said the new products demonstrate the breadth of the largest maker of PCs.

Fisher-Price, a unit of Mattel Inc., is one of the largest producers of toys for preschool-age children.

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