This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Calling Dick Tracy by Christmas 2002

May 17 2001 08:04 AM PDT

Intel's 'Internet on a chip' could put the Web on a wristwatch.

So it's 2001 and we still don't have our rocket cars and jet packs. But if it's any consolation, we're a little closer to getting Dick Tracy-style radio/video wristwatches.

Intel announced plans this week to produce what it calls the "Internet on a chip" - a new chip combining a CPU, flash memory and a digital signal processor. It contains most of what manufacturers need to build the next generation of tiny, power-thrifty wireless wonders - a cell phone in a lapel pin, anyone? - and it could be available next year.

To our disappointment, only the Associated Press's story, carried in the San Jose Mercury News and other outlets, mentioned the Dick Tracy angle. The other reports took a decidedly serious approach, describing the competition Intel will face in the integrated-chip market. For example, Texas Instruments is sampling combination chips, according to CNET, giving it about a six-month lead on Intel. The New York Times profiled IBM's competitive offering, a microchip that is shipping now, but it's not a mass-production item, the Times said; IBM makes the chip only on request from customers.

The Wall Street Journal led its Tech Center page with the Intel headline, but only a brief story linking Intel's chip news with the separate announcement that Intel will collaborate with British Telecommunications in developing wireless services.

Reuters covered the Intel-BT announcement in more depth. The companies promise services such as wireless electronic working groups and sending e-mail attachments to mobile devices. Reuters noted the increasing involvement of telecom companies with chipmakers, as cell phones morph into far more complex, Internet-capable devices. They're not quite producing Dick Tracy-style devices yet, but they're getting there.

The Moller SkyCar
Moller International

Intel Unveils New Wireless Chip (AP)
San Jose Mercury News

Intel to Unveil Its 'Internet on a Chip'

Intel Is Set to Announce a Chip of Many Functions
New York Times
(Registration required.)

Intel Unveils New 3-in-1 Chip Allowing Much Smaller Devices
Wall Street Journal
(Paid subscription required.)

BT Says to Develop Wireless Systems with Intel (Reuters)