General Magic reborn on Net

Tim Byars (
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 20:27:03 -0700

By Nick Wingfield
June 25, 1996, 2:30 p.m. PST

After riding the swell of hype surrounding personal digital
assistants (PDAs)
for as long as it could, General Magic is trying to catch
the latest technology
wave by recasting its PDA operating system and agent
software for the

Today, the beleaguered company, which has racked up losses
of more than
$74 million since its inception in 1990, unveiled its
turnaround plan at an event
in San Francisco. The new strategy transforms, or at least
dresses-up, the
Magic Cap OS as Net appliance software. General Magic is
also now
providing development and server software for its Telescript
agent-technology, so that Web sites can implement it in
their Web sites.

Telescript is a networking technology that lets users gather
information and
perform tasks automatically, such as making airline
reservations or executing
stock purchases. The Telescript programming language was
designed from
the ground up as the basis for network agents, but until now
the technology
was tied closely to proprietary online services and the
lagging Magic Cap
OS. Because of the dizzying amount of information available
on the Net,
General Magic's agent technology could help revitalize the
company if it
becomes popular with Web sites.

"Browsing and navigating are immensely frustrating and
non-productive," said
Bob Kelsch, president and chief operating officer of General
Magic. "By
automating the Web [with agents], that tedious navigating
experience is turned
in to a productive experience."

To make that so in the real world, General Magic today
shipped Tabriz
AgentWare, a $4,995 Unix software package that allows
companies to add
Telescript agent applications to their sites. A development
tool, Tabriz Agent
Tool, is free and comes with a set of software components
for building agent
applications. The company also today acquired a Windows NT
Conterra Software, to speed the creation of an NT version of
AgentWare, a beta version of which is expected this fall.

But General Magic is not abandoning its PDA OS, which runs
on Motorola's
Envoy and Sony's Magic Link devices. Instead, the company
shipped a
$49.95 Internet e-mail client and Web browser, called
PrestoLinks 1.5 and
PrestoMail 1.0, which the company hopes will make Magic Cap
attractive as Internet and intranet devices.

"We built [Magic Cap's original e-mail software] out of
standards," said Andy Hertzfeld, co-founder of General
Magic. "Through the
Presto mail package we've gotten Magic Cap to embrace Internet

General Magic is also trying to make its Magic Cap for
Windows more
Net-savvy, announcing plans to bundle Microsoft's Internet
Explorer Web
browser with the next version of the software package as
well as built-in
access to America Online.

Additionally, General Magic announced today that it is
putting new fax
modem software called SoftModem into the hands of OEMs.
uses a handheld computer's central processor instead of a
dedicated digital
signal processor so it should reduce the cost of adding
capabilities to portable devices, General Magic said.


** History 101** Hiroshima 45 - Chernobyl 86 - Windows 95 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- "The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste, and what that means is, I don't mean that in a small way I mean that in a big way. ... so I guess I am saddened, not by Microsoft's success I have no problem with their success, they've earned their success for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third rate products."

Steve Jobs, Triumph of the Nerds, PBS Documentary -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-