Apple Computer First Customer for Bell Labs’ Software Technology
NEW YORK (AP) _ Apple Computer Inc. will use technology developed by AT&T’s Bell Labs that could radically speed up a time-consuming step in developing computer programs, the companies said.
The technology ″translates″ software designed for one type of computer so it can be used on another type. Apple believes the system could reduce a job that now takes up to a year to a matter of a few weeks.
″We have done a lot of searching and looked at a number of pieces of technology,″ said Kirk Loevner, an Apple executive who coordinates the company’s relations with software developers. ″We’ve been overwhelmed with how good it is.″
Apple plans to use the technology to speed customer acceptance of advanced personal computers it is designing with International Business Machines Corp. Apple wants software makers to translate programs they designed for Apple’s Macintosh personal computers so they can be used on the new PCs.
The Bell Labs’ technology, called FlashPort, is being offered by a small company recently spun off from AT&T. Financial terms of Apple’s deal with the new company, called Echo Logic, were not disclosed.
Bell Labs is the New Jersey-based research arm of American Telephone & Telegraph Co.
Loevner said Apple hopes to have up to 100 programs available for the next- generation PCs when they are introduced in a few years.
″Without this (FlashPort) tool this wouldn’t be possible,″ he said.
The computers will be based on microprocessors, called PowerPC, developed by IBM. Apple’s use of the computer chips stems from its alliance with the computer giant announced last year.
The Apple executive said the software that is translated for use on the new PCs should work at least as well as it did on the Macintosh. However, he said, it won’t take advantage of enhanced features that the PowerPC-based computers will provide. To use those features, software developers will have to write programs specificially for these new computers.
Apple also says it will develop a way for the new PCs to run today’s Macintosh software unmodified. However, this technique, in which the new PCs will emulate the way Macintoshes work, won’t run the programs as quickly as software that goes through the translation process.