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`Woz' returns in Apple restructuring

Steve Wozniak will return to Apple Computer, the company he founded along with Steve Jobs in a California garage, in an advisory role as part of a corporate restructuring announced last week by Gil Amelio, Apple's chief executive officer. Wozniak and Jobs, who launched Apple in 1976, will be part of a 10-member executive committee whose task will be to turn the troubled computer maker around. Apple lost more than $800m last year while seeing its market share slip dramatically. Its share price hit a 10-year low on Wall Street shortly before the restructuring was announced.

Wozniak, left, who resigned from Apple in 1985, has devoted his time to helping teachers and schoolchildren learn to use computers. He rejoins Jobs, whose NeXT software company was acquired by Apple late last year. NeXT technology will form the core of Apple's new operating system for the Macintosh, Rhapsody. Addressing shareholders last week, Amelio also said that Apple is considering developing the new Mac OS for Intel-based computers, and that he had held discussions with Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman, about licensing Microsoft's Windows NT operating system.

TI launches superfast DSP chip

Texas Instruments last week unveiled a new digital signal processing (DSP) chip which revolutionise Internet access. DSPs TI says that the DSP chip can process 1.6 billion instructions per second, compared with the approximately 200 million instructions per second achieved by fast Intel chips. As a result, a file that currently takes 10 minutes to download from the Internet will take less than five seconds using a modem equipped with a DSP chip. The chip will also allow users to make phone calls and access the Net over the same telephone line simultaneously, eliminating the need for a separate modem line.

Refunds for irate AOL subscribers

America Online has agreed to give refunds or credits to frustrated and angry subscribers in the United States who have been unable to access the online service. In December, AOL introduced a flat-rate pricing scheme for unlimited access and launched a $3m marketing campaign to attract new members, but it was unprepared for the overwhelming response it generated. As more and more subscribers logged on and stayed connected for longer periods of time, millions of others were unable to gain access to the service. AOL agreed to refund access charges for December and January after attorney generals in more than 20 states had threatened to take legal action over the fiasco. AOL estimates that the refunds could total as much as $24m. It also announced plans to add 50,000 modems to its system by the end of the month.

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