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Jostens Inc. has acquired Education Systems Corporation and merged the San Diego-based software producer into a new division called Jostens Learning Corporation.

The new company will be "the nation's largest developer and marketer of technology-based education programs" for precollegiate classrooms, according to a spokesman.

It will combine esc and Prescription Learning Corporation, a Jostens subsidiary in Phoenix. The division is expected to earn annual revenues of $80 million.

Jostens, a Fortune 500 company with headquarters in Minneapolis, produces yearbooks, awards, and other school memorabilia.

The Franklin Computer Corporation, a pioneer in the field of hand-held electronic reference works, has released what it touts as the "world's first speaking dictionary."

The Language Master 4000, which retails for $399.95, "pronounces" more than 83,000 words contained in its built-in Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Company officials suggested it would be particularly useful to students who were learning English as a second language.

Franklin has also released the Elementary Spelling Ace, designed for children ages 6 to 12.

The machine corrects spelling and refers users to the definition of the corrected word in the Merriam-Webster Elementary School Dictionary, which is packaged with the machine. The price for both is $99.

The recent promotion of James A. Dezell Jr., general manager of the International Business Machines Corporation's Educational Systems, to a company vice presidency reflects the computer giant's growing interest in the precollegiate market, a company spokesman says.

"It's a recognition of [Mr. Dezell's] business success," according to the spokesman, Greg Thompson. "More importantly, it's a recognition of the importance that i.b.m. is placing on the educational market.''

I.b.m. has been making inroads in school sales in recent years. It is now second to Apple Computer Inc., the dominant manufacturer in the precollegiate field, in number of computers sold to schools.

"The Grady Report: Personal Computers in American Education," a newsletter for computer-using educators, has folded after a year of publication.

A spokesman for the newsletter's parent company said the firm had decided that the publication would not have been profitable in the long run.

David Grady, the newsletter's editor and publisher, has taken a job with Next Inc., the newest venture of Steven Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer.--pw

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