Published: Monday 31 January 1994

US computer software companies are in a state of shock over an announcement by Compton's New Media, a small US company, that it has been granted a patent on computer systems that retrieve information from multimedia databases. Several industry groups intend to contest the claim in court and say the patent covers a process that is common.

Ford Motor Co and the US energy department are developing a car that uses an electric motor and a gasoline engine, the Los Angeles Times reports. The hybrid cars have a better range than electric vehicles, which can travel only for 160 km without a recharge. Bradford Bates, head of Ford's hybrid research, says, "It's certainly possible that we could have hybrid vehicles on the road in five to 10 years."

Texas Instruments Inc of the US has demonstrated a new semi-conductor device that is three times as fast as conventional computer chips. The wonder chip has parts that are one-fiftieth (check) the size of a semi-conductor's parts. Smaller parts, the company says, speed up performance. The US paper industry intends to recycle 50 per cent of all the paper that Americans use by 2000. A survey by the American Forest and Paper Association, an umbrella body of the industry, shows that though US pulp, paper and paperboard manufacturing capacity will grow slowly over the next three years, its recycling capacity will grow much faster.

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