New Products Help Fight Video Rats, Sell Toothpaste

IF fighting off rats in the back seat of your car sounds like fun, now there's Lynx, Atari's hand-held video arcade. Powered by batteries or plugged into the cigarette lighter, the one-pound unit blazes iridescent graphics from its playing card-sized liquid crystal screen. Sound effects spew from its two-inch speaker.

The $179.95 toy comes with ``California Games'' like surfing, skateboarding, and BMX. The latter grades performances with West Coast slang: uncool, bogus, radical. Other games, including Scrapyard Dog (featuring the aforementioned rats), come on plug-in cards and cost $35-40.

As its name indicates, Lynx can be linked, with each player watching the action from his own screen. ``Slime World,'' for eight players, debuts this week.

Atari expects to ship 500,000 units by the end of the year, a spokesman says, carving into the $4.5 billion market dominated by Nintendo's Game Boy machine.

SCIENTISTS at Bellcore, a telephone company research laboratory have created a ``quantum wire'' laser. Reducing the size of lasers to near-atomic dimensions - 30 atoms by 300 - permits operation on 100,000 times less electricity than used in the lasers in today's compact disk players, according to the Middletown Township, N.J., laboratory.

Thousands of quantum wire lasers could fit on a single silicon chip for use in optical interconnections to increase the speed and efficiency of computing and telecommunications, Bellcore says.

THE 1990 census results will be the first the Census Bureau has offered in a form useable by desktop computers. Strategic Mapping Inc. of San Jose, Calif., has software to help marketers of everything from T-Bills to toothpaste use the data.

Its ATLAS*GIS (geographic information system) combines database, drawing and editing, and map presentation and analysis software, all for $2,495.

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