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Joint Venture Promises Interactive TV by Year End

April 28, 1993

CHICAGO (AP) _ Three leading technology companies have formed a joint venture that they say will bring revolutionary changes in cable television to American homes by the end of this year.

General Instrument Corp., the world’s largest supplier of cable and satellite TV equipment, announced on Tuesday the interactive TV deal with computer chip maker Intel Corp. and software giant Microsoft Corp.

Their goal is to wed Microsoft Windows software, Intel’s 386 computer chips and General Instrument’s Jerrold line of cable converters. The resulting box will sit atop television sets and allow cable companies to send hundreds of channels into homes that now can receive only scores of them, General Instrument said.

Instead of using the wireless remote-control devices now available, viewers will use a remote-control ″air mouse″ to move an arrow-shaped pointer around their TV screens, said Matt Miller, vice president of technology for Chicago- based General Instrument. Viewers will be able to select various actions from graphic symbols and on-screen menus, he said.

″Suppose you’re watching MTV and you wonder what the lyrics are to a song that’s playing, so you click a button and lyrics start to scroll along the bottom of the screen ... or you click a button that says ‘cover’ and up comes a picture of the cover for the CD that’s playing. Maybe another box says, ‘Do you want to buy this CD,’ and you can order it on the spot,″ Miller said.

General Instrument said it will start trying to sell the new boxes to cable television operators within weeks, but it was not clear exactly how soon they will be ready for introduction in homes.

Donald Rumsfeld, chief executive of General Instrument, said the technology will be available in homes by the end of the year.

Intel estimated the cost of each device at $400.

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