Two years ago officials at NCR Corp. scanned the high-technology horizon and saw the discovery of high-temperature superconductors as a once-rn-a-lifetime opportunity for the computer giant. But the Dayton, Ohio, company had a problem: it had never researched superconductivity, and it didn’t know the best way to enter this fast-moving field. To overcome its ignorance, NCR shelled out $100,000. to become a founding member of an industrial consortium on superconductivity being formed by the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp., itself a 19-member industrial consortium dedicated to cutting-edge computer and electronic research.

Now, a little more than a year later, NCR officialsadmit they were a bit hasty jumping on the superconductivity bandwagon. The MCC program is a shadow of its former self: NCR and five other original members have already pulled out, and others are reportedly on the verge of withdrawing (see table, page 13). The decision of many to leave...

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