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Ford's Innovative SYNC System Inducted Into Computer Museum

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When you think of Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum, you may imagine Eniac, or a DEC PDP-8, perhaps even such early personal computers as the Altair and Apple II.

Well, think SYNC, too.

Curators at the museum have added Ford's SYNC in-car connectivity and communications system to its permanent collection.

The system, introduced in Fall 2007 as a $395 option on the restyled 2008 Ford Focus, was an instant hit, boosting Ford's awareness and credibility among tech-savvy younger drivers.

It also, Ford said later, raised the average purchase price of the then-aging Focus model by several hundred dollars.

SYNC was an expanded version of the Blue&Me system Microsoft had pioneered earlier on Fiats, but only those sold in the European market.

Microsoft gave Ford roughly two years of exclusivity on the technology, to which Ford soon added other features--including 911 Assist, which dialed emergency responders if an airbag deployed, a Vehicle Health Report, and off-board services, among others.

The SYNC system pairs the car to a user's mobile phone via Bluetooth, allowing a driver to use voice commands to make and receive calls and to access music stored on a phone or other digital device.

It's unusual for a computer to be added to the museum's collection less than five years after it launched, but SYNC was revolutionary in its day and there are now more than 4 million Fords on the road incorporating the system.

Ford is now rolling out SYNC globally, and the company said it expects to add another 5 million users to that number by 2015.

Given the teething troubles Ford has had with its subsequent MyFordTouch voice-command and screen interface system, however, we suspect that feature may have a longer wait.

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