Brad Stone

Inside Intel

The water-rocket demonstration last month at the SMK Padang Tembak high school in Kuala Lumpur combined three of Craig Barrett's passions: science, technology and education.

Blast Off!

Dr. Gregory H. Olsen would have you believe that he's just a normal, average guy. "I don't view myself as a genius rocket scientist," he says. "It was a combination of tenacity and breaks that got me where I am today." But the 58-year-old entrepreneur turned telecom gazillionare is being characteristically humble.

MEN AT OVERWORK

IBM's year-old, $2.5 billion computer-chip plant in East Fishkill, N.Y., is a manufacturing marvel. Three hundred robotic tools, six miles of networking cable and more computing power than NASA uses to launch the space shuttle all work together to produce tens of millions of chips a year--each with circuitry 800 times thinner than a human hair.

Back To Basics

The newest offering from Gap is not a scandalously low-cut miniskirt or a puffy candy-colored vest. Those are relics from the recent past, bold miscues that spun the San Francisco retailer into a three-year financial free fall.

Won't Do Windows

In 1997, PCs cost an average of $2,000. They crossed the $1,000 barrier two years later. Today Walmart.com sells them for $199. The catch: you have to supply your own monitor.

Beyond The Light

Since 1996, 3.2 million people in the United States have had Lasik surgery to repair their vision. It's an impressive number for a procedure that involves peeling back a layer of the eye to allow a laser to reshape the surface of the cornea.

Spamming The World

Al Ralsky would like you to have thick, lustrous hair. He also wants to help you buy a cheap car, get a loan regardless of your credit history and earn a six-figure income from the comfort of your home.

UPHOLDING MOORE'S LAW

You won't see many teary eyes at Intel these days. While the high-tech in-dustry continues to limp through tough times, execs at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based microchip giant, founded in 1968, cling to the advice of their cofounder, Gordon Moore. "Recessions always end," he once said, "and innovation allows some companies to emerge from them stronger than before." Staying true to those words, the company is pumping up R&D spending to its highest level ever, an estimated $4.1 billion this year.

IT'S A WHOLE NEW WORLD

You're flying over rolling green hills and gentle lakes, with a full moon behind you and a magnificent sun directly ahead. You pass over a huge chessboard, frozen on the final move of the previous match, and hook a right at someone's art project--the inscrutable monolith from "2001: A Space Odyssey." Lowering yourself into a village, you walk into a disco, which, like the rest of this ethereal realm, is rendered in finely detailed, 3-D graphics.

Hp-Compaq Merger Seems Likely

Citing a "slim but sufficient" majority of shareholder votes, Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina claimed victory today in her bid to merge the 63-year-old Palo Alto-based technology giant with Houston-based Compaq.While representatives of her primary opponent, board member William Hewlett, declared the vote "too close to call," Fiorina's proclamation likely marks the end to a bitter, six-and-a-half-month proxy fight that put Hewlett Packard's management at odds with the children of the firm's...

Learning The Ropes

On a Thursday morning earlier this month, new Yahoo chief executive Terry Semel awoke at 5:30 a.m. and waited outside his hotel for a car that would ferry him to the ritual every CEO must endure: the CNBC appearance.

Telecom's Big Tumble

Steven Bras was the tech industry's dream customer. Perpetually online, he bought books from Amazon, paid his cable bill at his bank's Web site and even printed stamps at stamps.com, all over a high-speed Internet connection in his Seattle-area home.

A Postbubble Start-Up

Like the Yeti, the Loch Ness monster and UFOs over the Nevada desert, a single gadget that does everything--gets e-mail, surfs the Web, makes phone calls--has long been the subject of wonderment, always there but just out of sight.

Attack Of The Battle Bots

The dogs wander over first, intrigued but cautious. Then the neighbors emerge from their homes, drawn out by the low-pitched metallic drone that seems to be moving quickly around their communal parking lot.

Bedtime For Bezos?

The front door of the imposing former VA hospital that is Amazon.com's headquarters is closed these days. You use the basement entrance, marked by a paper tacked to the door reading, limited entry--warning...

The Valley Gets Deeper

The gossip gladiators were on-line in force last Wednesday, after the Nasdaq market halted trading in Internet media heavyweight Yahoo, pending a company announcement later that day.

New Valley Rules

It's easy to be misled by the stylish offices of tech start-up Voxeo in Scotts Valley, Calif. Look out a window, and there's an Olympic-size swimming pool, a tennis court and a Stonehenge-like rock sculpture on the grounds below.

Good To The Last Drop

If Eric Clapton wrote a song about Napster, it would sound a lot like "Bell Bottom Blues." "I don't want to fade away," the British rocker sings, "give me one more day." The free online-music service is still alive--but it keeps sustaining serious wounds.

Love Online

Boston journalist Judith Forman first laid eyes on Toronto actor Andrew Pifko after he performed in a play one recent Friday night. But the two were already practically going out.

Finally, The Net Gets Real

Patrick Ahrendt came to Silicon Valley seeking the dot-com gold miner's dream. The 31-year-old marketer and his wife left their home in southern California and moved to the only house they could afford, in a dusty farming community called Turlock,90 miles from Ahrendt's new office in San Francisco.

'The Bernice Test'

For the past few years, I've been computer shopping for the toughest customer around--my grandmother. It's no easy task. PCs are far too complex, and don't handle well the seasonal voyage from the Northeast to Florida.

Investment Of Champions

To find Silicon Valley's newest investment guru, you need to travel 90 minutes north of San Francisco, to the rolling hills of Napa Valley. There, amid the country roads and verdant wineries, you'll find a secluded ranch with 30 horses, 50 head of cattle and four Super Bowl rings--the new home of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.This week Montana joins former San Francisco 49ers teammates Ronnie Lott and Harris Barton as a general partner in Champion Ventures, an investment fund for...

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