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Date: Fri Jan 12 2001 - 08:40:05 PST

Since I rarely post a message here, first I want to thank everyone for providing so much great reading material. I wish I had the time to actively participate on FoRK, but I really enjoy lurking here. Thanks to everyone here for spending the time to share your thoughts.

One other thing before I get to my main subject. I know some of you here (used to) spend a lot of time at The Motley Fool. I'm working there now, if you hadn't noticed. I'm working on the tech side, but I get to pen an article every now and then. I was a bear for the "Dueling Fools" recently, the subject was the market in 2001. You can read it here if you're interested:

I'm going to do another on YHOO (bear, of course) in a couple of weeks.

But anyway, on to my question. I don't think I've seen "Ginger" mentioned here, but I've missed some posts, so my apologies if this has already been discussed. But if it hasn't, can anyone tell me what in the hell the article below is about? I'm curious, and I can't figure it out.



Friday January 12 12:52 AM ET
Mystery Invention 'Ginger' Has Tech World Buzzing

By Eric Auchard

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A planned book about a mysterious invention said to be more important than the World Wide Web and capable of generating fantastic riches has gripped a down-on-its-luck technology industry in need of a miracle.

Harvard Business School Press is said to have paid $250,000 for a book detailing ``IT,'' a device code-named ``Ginger'' that is set to be unveiled next year by millionaire inventor Dean Kamen.

In a statement issued Thursday, Kamen, 49, declined to reveal much on the device other than saying: ``While our projects are in the development phase and have client confidentiality requirements, it is impossible for us to comment further.''

Details of the machine are contained in a book proposal by journalist Steve Kemper, a freelance writer for publications such as Smithsonian, a popular scientific magazine for which the author profiled Kamen in 1994., the Web site of the recently launched media gossip magazine, was first to report the story on Tuesday.

Much of what is known about Ginger is what it's not.

The invention is said to take just 10 minutes to assemble using simple tools. Ginger machines may cost less than $2,000 a piece when they debut in 2002, said.

With headlines bristling with news of the end of the personal computer era and the destruction of many dotcom businesses, the technology industry has redoubled its irrepressible search for the next big thing.

Technology leaders like as Apple Computer Co. (NasdaqNM:AAPL - news) co-founder Steve Jobs (news - web sites), (news - web sites) (NasdaqNM:AMZN - news) founder Jeff Bezos and top venture capitalist John Doerr are said to have been enthralled by a demonstration of a prototype device and to have invested millions of dollars.

Investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston expects that IT can generate more in its first year than any start-up ever, which would make Kamen richer than Bill Gates (news - web sites) within five years, according to details of the proposal reported by

Jobs reportedly predicts cities will be built around the machines. Bezos calls the product ``revolutionary''. Kamen claims it will transform social institutions and shake billion-dollar companies. None of those involved, including the publisher, the literary agent or the backers, would comment on the story.

Kamen, who lives in a house of his own design perched on a hill outside of Manchester, New Hampshire, invented the first portable insulin pump in the 1970s.

For 20 years, Kamen has been at work creating several innovative healthcare and technology products at DEKA Research and Development Corp. in Manchester. The secretive company has more than 150 employees, a spokeswoman said.

``We are proud of our record of introducing many breakthrough products and we continue to work on numerous products at any given time,'' Kamen said in a statement issued in response to the attention generated by the book offer.

Among his Kamen's recent inventions was a wheelchair capable of climbing stairs. He organizes a high school robotic invention competition that attracts more than 10,000 student participants each April to Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.

Kamen was named for a National Medal of Technology award by the White House in November for his invention of the insulin pump, joining the inventors of fiber optic cable, the computer pointing device and data storage equipment.

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