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Internet shopping experiment starts

Some of the news making the technology world buzz

The first trials of an international electronic cash system began last week, with a bankroll of 1-million "cyber bucks" and several hundred volunteers eager to spend them, the system's developer said.

Digicash Inc., which has offices in Menlo Park, Calif., and Amsterdam, hopes to establish its system as a standard for commercial transactions on the Internet. If the system proves workable, it is expected to begin commercial operations within months.

Using credit cards or other means of conventional currency transfer, a consumer would transfer a given amount of E-cash, as electronic cash is rapidly coming to be known, to his or her computer. Then, while shopping on the Internet, the consumer could simply click on an area of the screen and transfer E-cash to the seller.

Digicash's system would protect the privacy of the buyer.

Software tackles

frequent-flier programs

Many travelers worry whether they're earning all the frequent-flier mileage they deserve by taking advantage of special offers, staying at the right hotels and using the right rental car.

Now there's a computer-based program that can make it easier than ever to know if you're maximizing your earnings.

The FTM AirMax software comes from brothers Charles and John Clark of Malvern, Pa., two former frequent fliers who grew frustrated trying to track the points they were earning. Their company is Frequent Travel Management Inc.

For each trip, once each airline's maximum mileage is calculated, AirMax ranks each program by the highest percentage of a free round-trip ticket that a traveler can earn.

AirMax is Windows-based. A disc version costs $79.95. Through CompuServe, it can be ordered for $49.95 by typing GO FTMINC. Call (800) 386-2476.

Compaq outstripping

IBM in 1994 PC sales

NEW YORK _ Compaq Computer Corp. shipped more personal computers worldwide than top rivals Apple and IBM in the third quarter, according to a research firm's preliminary analysis issued last week.

Compaq appeared likely to capture the No. 1 spot for the year, surpassing IBM for the first time since that company got into the PC business more than a decade ago.

_ Compiled from Times wires by staff writer Dave Gussow.