If your schools suffer from a shortage of qualified computer network administrators or lack adequate wiring to handle traditional network configurations, there was good news for you at DEMO 98, a trade show for emerging technologies held late in February in Indian Wells, Calif. The show, which featured devices soon to be rolled out as commercial products, highlighted a new category of single-purpose machines promising to provide no-fuss, low-cost network computing for schools and other users.

So far, three companies‹Cobalt Microserver, Sun Microsystems, and Data General Corp.‹have debuted the new machines, called "internet access...

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