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Tech support

National

Issue: "California's new governor," Oct. 4, 2003

IS TECH BACK? SOME SIGNS SUggest that the three-year hangover after the dot-com bubble is fading.

Intel reported increased demand, but was quick to downplay any hint of a new boom. Rival chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices said that sales in July and August were "encouraging."

One high-tech underdog recently hit a milestone: It turned profitable. Red Hat, the leading Linux provider, saw strong sales boost revenue by 36 percent.

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Hints of economic recovery also showed in the fortunes of high-tech titans. Forbes' annual survey showed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates's wealth increasing by $3 billion to $46 billion this year. Former partner Paul Allen gained $1 billion to a $22 billion net worth. Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos was the list's top gainer; his fortune exploded by more than $3 billion to $5.1 billion, thanks to his company's stock.

One factor in increased demand may be students. More and more students need to own their own computers, and schools often tell them to buy laptops, which are more expensive and often more profitable.

But the hottest computer market is the business world. All the technology bought in the late 1990s must be replaced eventually. Experts have predicted a huge upgrade cycle for the past two years, but so far little has materialized.

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