Like the village smithy, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell conducts his business under a spreading tree. "I got a new modem for my cellular phone the other day," he told In the Office recently. "I went up into the redwoods behind my house....I had my laptop and my cellular phone, and I downloaded my E-mail, and in every direction all I could see was absolute beauty...yet I was totally in contact with my office." Setups in such locations will likely become the standard, rather than the exception, for processing paperwork.

The alfresco desktop may be arriving faster than even visionary Bushnell anticipates. Last month Silicon Valley chip maker Intel introduced the Wireless Modem, a modestly priced portable-PC modem -- essentially, an FM-radio transmitter/receiver -- by which out-of-the-office execs can exchange E-mail with virtually any other U.S. computer site.

One route is through AT&T's Easy Link, a directly dialable public-data-transmission service that is reached by the transceiver through the wireless version of AT&T's Access PLUS, one of two software options that Intel bundles with its modem. An attraction for the interruption-averse: Easy Link's electronic "receptionist" feature allows users to screen messages. By specifying which types of messages are deemed urgent, a busy executive can minimize distractions while reducing transmission charges.

And existing local-area networks (LANs) needn't be modified to use the Wireless Modem, says Intel. It can, in an alternate mode, exchange messages with corporate LANs that run Lotus Development's cc:Mail via Lotus's cc:Mail Wireless Pack, which hooks up with RAM Mobile Data, a broad-based supplier of wireless transport for messaging services that specializes in network connectivity.

The Wireless Modem is about $750. For information, call Intel at 800-538-3373.

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