A data collection program for handheld equipment will be offered as a freeware sales incentive by two rival companies in the survey and machine control field.

"Topcon and Leica have licensed exclusive rights to distribute the freeware," says Dale Jefferson, executive vice president of Maysville, Ky.-based Carlson Software Inc. He says the license fee is minor and will cover some development costs. But Carlson’s motivation is "we want to see this product distributed as quickly as possible."

The freeware is a basic edition of Carlson SurvCE. It will be offered in a full-featured 90-day trial version by Norcross, Ga.-based Leica Geosystems Inc. and Topcon Positioning Systems Inc, Pleasanton, Calif. After the trial expires the software may either be purchased for $2,995, or it will revert to a "basic" version which will function indefinitely. "It’s still fine data collection software," Jefferson says. It will collect points, calculate areas and support multiple types of instruments, he says.