At a May 30 technology conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, technology companies from Microsoft Corp. to Silicon Valley start-ups introduced computers with fundamentally new forms.

Microsoft unveiled the fruits of six years of research pushed by Chairman Bill Gates--a computer designed like a table with a touch screen. The system, called Surface and aimed initially for use in hotels and casinos, includes features that allow users to buy tickets to events, wirelessly retrieve and display photos, and play games. It goes on sale later this year.

At the same event, an Oakland, Calif., start-up called Livescribe...

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