Oracle Net appliances for auction block

Puzzling for a way to make the five-year-old network computer concept interesting again, a company established by Oracle opted to put 10 of its devices up for auction on amazon.com's Web site.

Several weeks ago, Oracle's chairman Larry Ellison announced that the Net appliances, known as New Internet Computers or NICs, were set to go on general sale to consumers on July 4. Aimed at giving users fast, easy access to the Net, the NICs come from The New Internet Computer Company (NICC), an independent company launched in May and funded in large part by Ellison.

An NIC costs $US199, or $376 factoring in the cost of a 15 inch monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, speakers and shipping, according to NICC. However, the day before the amazon auction, winning bids were being posted at $775, with 159 bids logged and the majority of bidders wanting one NIC, although a few people were bidding for two or five of the 10 devices. The 10 NICs in the auction were limited edition releases, with a broader release of the devices due later this month. Each one will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Ellison.

NICs run version 2.2 of the Linux operating system from a CD and contain a 266MHz Pentium-class central processor unit, 64MB of RAM, 4MB of flash memory and a 56Kbps modem, according to amazon.

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