General Magic

To quote from the blurb at the bottom of General Magic press releases :

"General Magic, Inc. (Nasdaq: GMGC) was founded in 1990 and provides engaging, active Internet software for business professionals, developers, device manufacturers, service providers and enterprises. General Magic is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, with offices in Paris and Tokyo. For more information on General Magic and its products, visit General Magic's website at http://www.genmagic.com/"


If you didn't find what you were after at General Magic's own site, I suggest you try DarkDan's site for a wealth of product information - both current and "in the pipeline".

If you're a Magic Cap user, then there's a newsgroup you may find useful ...user comments and questions, and some feedback from GMGC employees and developers. It's getting less interesting; a lot of the traffic is probably going to the mailing list : (sorry, I don't have details).


"Telescript software enables the creation of new networks by providing a new communications architecture using intelligent mobile software programs ("agents") that route themselves through networks and perform various tasks on behalf of a user, from carrying messages to executing transactions."
[General Magic IPO prospectus : 9 Feb 1995]


Steve G Steinberg in Wired [Feb. 1996] :

"Because Telescript was designed with agents in mind, it offers significant technical advantages over Java. Most importantly, Telescript programs can retain items in memory as they travel from computer to computer, while Java programs forget everything when they move to a new computer."

"Only when we put machines into the loop and use computer power to filter and search for information will the Web truly begin to transform our lives."


Jim White, Vice President of Telescript Technology at General Magic, in a mobilis interview (Parts I and II) :

"Telescript was invented so that personal devices of all kinds ...could use the resources of a network in a manner consistent with the resources of the devices themselves."

"...Java does things Telescript doesn't, and does them well. ...Applets help to create the user interface; agents animate the server."

"Any network application with a non-trivial user interface is a candidate for at least a partial implementation in Java. Any application that makes non-trivial use of the network is a candidate for at least partial implementation in Telescript. There's great overlap between these two sets of applications."

"This January [1996] General Magic demonstrated Telescript-Java interoperability at Demo 96."


Examples of other intelligent agents in practice can be found at Firefly (Agents Inc.) and Agentware (AutoNomy).

For information about Java, try Sun's JavaSoft site as an introduction. Then use a search engine ...(Hype travels faster than the speed of light, and there is a huge number of links; so try and narrow your search down).


The current state of the consumer PDA scene can be gauged from mobilis and Magic Mirror (Pen Computing magazine).

For a more technical viewpoint, I suggest a keyword search of "Upside" and "Red Herring".


If you're interested in the shares, then try the newsgroup-style Silicon Investor - a source of opinion and information/ rumour, as well as graphs and background info. You will need to register.

My preferred stock ticker is at the Security APL site, but a lot of US finance sites have them, including Yahoo! ...which also has up-to-date recent press releases (unlike the General Magic site).


Before its "rebirth" as an Internet co.

Extracts from "Dangerous Liaisons" : Richard Brandt in Upside magazine, Dec 1995 :

Michael Spindler doesn't have it. Lou Gerstner doesn't have it. John Sculley never did. Not even Bill Gates has it, really. It's that old Steve Jobs charisma : the style, the conviction, the sheer salesmanship that became the Apple Computer Inc. founder's trademark, allowing him to create not just a new computer and a new company, but a whole new industry.

Marc Porat has it. The CEO of General Magic Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., a former member of Apple Computer's elite Advanced Technology Group, is an evangelist built in the image of Steve Jobs : bright, articulate, technologically adept and bravely ambitious. Porat is the kind of guy who can mesmerise with his speech, move the press into lavish praise and talk corporate executives from New Jersey to Tokyo into paying tithes and signing onto his particular vision of the information highway. "As a pitchman," says Jean-Louis Gassee, the former Apple executive who first hired Porat at Apple, "he puts Steve Jobs to shame."

Porat can paint a vision that looks like paradise. It's a world where personal communicators sit in your pocket, automatically organizing your schedule, reminding you of appointments, alerting you to upcoming events and even sending software "agents" or virtual robots onto worldwide networks to do your bidding.

In the last few years, Porat has built General Magic into one of the darlings of the comuter industry. He raised an astounding $77 million from some huge names in technology and communications, including Apple, AT&T Corp., Sony Corp., Motorola Inc., Matsushita Electrical Industrial and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT). When it went public early this year, General Magic's stock nearly doubled on its first day of trading, making it one of the hottest high-tech IPO's around (until the arrival of Netscape Communications Corp., also of Mountain View).

Since then, however, the General Magic magic has waned. Marc Porat is repeating a lesson that his role model learned in his Next venture : Charisma is not always enough. With its first products sagging and many of its burned-out executives now bailing out, General Magic is rapidly becoming known in the high-tech community as one of the most overhyped companies in the world (until the arrival of Netscape).


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