The following articles are reprinted solely as items of interest for the independent evaluation by members of
ATSU. The opinions, statements of fact, and conclusions expressed herein are not those of the Association.
CRTs Cause of Editors' Cataracts?
By Nancy French
And John P. Hebert
NEW YORK — Two copy editors
who work for The New York Times
were diagnosed as having cataracts af¬
ter the newspaper switched to elec¬
tronic editing and typesetting — a
change that put the two in front of
CRTs all day.
Both editors, who are in their 30s,
suspect radiation emitted from the
CRTs is to blame.
Cataract victims average 60 years of
age, according to Dr. Edward Murphy
Jr., a Boston opthalmologist affiliated
with the Mar Jachusetts Eye and Ear
Infirmary who also teaches at Harvard
The disease, "which clouds the nor¬
mally transparent lens of the eye and
eventually causes blindness, can be
corrected surgically by removing the
lens and then adjusting, vision with
contact lenses and/or thick glasses.
Murphy said the disease is so un r
usual in people as young as 30 or 35
that when he ,finds such a case he
usually looks for "some systemic dis¬
ease such a£ diabetes." *
Dr. Milton Zaret of Scarsdale, N.Y.,
an ophthalmologist and authority on
the effects of radiation on the eye, said
radiation could be to blame. Zaret was
called in on the case after the News¬
paper Guild of. New York AFL-CIO
intervened on behalf of the two copy
At first The Times took the position
that there was no connection between ~
use of the CRTs and the two cataract
diagnoses and that the men probably
had cataracts before they began work¬
ing on the CRTs. But 50 copy editors
at The Times weren't so sure.
These editors signed a petition asking
for an inquiry.
The Newspaper Guild asked the
Manhattan Federal District Court to
grant a temporary restraining order to
take the two editors off the CRTs until
new tests could be done.
Judge Thomas P. Griesa ruled the
dispute should be settled through ar¬
bitration. A ^anel was selected and at
the moment a representative sample of
the machines in use at the newspaper
is being tested for radiation "by an in¬
dependent party," according to Harry
Fisdell, vice-president of the guild.
Research done to date on the
cataract-radiation problem is incon¬
clusive. A study released May 13'by
the National Institute of Occupational
Safety and Health (Niosh) of Cincin¬
nati stated that CRTs do not emit
enough nonionizing radiation to pose
an occupational hazard.
The study did acknowledge both
copy editors have tne type of cataracts
"compatible with those reported from
exposure to radiant energy."
However, the Niosh report has "fatal
I flaws," according to Zaret. Further,
I neither qf .the, two men has "any
l significant medical history that would
lead to the development of cataracts,"
Zaret, who has spent 20 years study¬
ing the effects of radiation on the eye,
said the problems with color TV sets —
which also contain cathode ray tubes
—. have been resolved, but CRT ter¬
minals are a "totally unexplored area."
"Deflection coils'' which deflect the
electronic beam onto the screen "create
electromagnetic radiation as well as
nonionizing radiation." These could
produce cataracts, he said.
The terminals in use at The Times are
largely Harris Corp. H-1520 CRTs,
which create characters using a dot¬
matrix display, according to Gordon
Kilgore, program manager for Harris'
Composition Systems Division.
Nearly 1,000 of these terminals are
now in use all over the world, Kilgore
said, and no problems like thjs have
ever been reported before.
Reprinted with permission of Computerworld, Newton, Mass. 02160,
August 1, 1977, Copyright 1977.
Data Base Disease
Data base management
systems without good systems
management, in actual
practice, are often unmitigated
by Kenneth T. Orr
It is not immediately obvious why
data base management systems
should have become so popular to
the data processing profession. If one
believes some of the published re¬
ports, data base systems are very ex¬
pensive; they take up large amounts
of resources, namely, personnel, com¬
puters and time; and they usually re¬
quire a great many applications to
justify their initial costs.
To be perfectly honest, the primary
reason data base management sys¬
tems are currently in vogue seems to
be that they sell computer hardware.
They don't sell them directly, of
course, since very few of the cost
projections for implementing a data
base software package truly cost out
the ultimate impact of the data base
software on the operation involved.
But sooner or later, in order to sup¬
port the very growing appetite of the
data base system for CPU cycles and
disk storage, their owners are forced,
much like the proud possessor of a
baby alligator, to increase their main¬
tenance budget or face an unpleasant
And there are other, organization-
related, problems associated with
data base management systems. For
example, if you read the job descrip¬
tion of the average data base
administrator, you begin to suspect
that the only person in the universe
that could fill the requirements wears
a blue jumpsuit with a big red "S" on
the front. This creates a perplexing
situation for management. In one
breath, you read where the data base
administrator is critical to the installa¬
tion of a "true data base environ¬
ment," and in the next you are told
that the job of the data base adminis¬
trator is an impossible one.
By this time, I bet you expect me to
tell you that data base systems are
doomed and that it's all a plot by the
hardware manufacturers to unload
large amounts of computers on an
earnest but not too clever public.
Well, I'm going to surprise you. I like
data bases, even though I find that
most organizations starting to devel¬
op a data base begin on the wrong
foot. I think data bases are necessary,
even critical to long term success of
information management. But I also
feel that without good systems man¬
agement, in actual practice they are
often unmitigated disasters.
For the most part, "data base" is
simply a term that has been cor¬
rupted. Unfortunately, it has come to
mean some mystical set of computer-
oriented software which maintains
large amounts of interrelated data on
(See Figure 1.)
Data base is a concept
But a data base is not software; it is
really only a concept, a way of look¬
ing at data. And rather than being a
radical new concept, it is a radical old
one. In fact, if you have a system
today, you also have a data base.
However, you probably are not man¬
aging it. All of the data that you have
within the system to produce the cor¬
rect output can be thought of as a
data base. But because of problems in
definition, we have come to consider
a data base only as some kind of
monolithic "monster" file and any set
of old-fashioned (See Figure 1) files a
sort of "non-data base."
As with most good ideas, the data
base as a collection of the organiza¬
tion's data has become confused with
the software which manipulates the
data. This is unfortunate, for the
greater part of any organization's data
usually resides outside the computer
altogether. And a true data-based
systems approach would consider all
of the data in the organization as part
of the data base, to be managed,
updated and maintained. (See Fig¬
Why the current interest in data
base anyway? Well, after a couple of
decades of systems building, our past
mistakes have begun to catch up with
us. We now have large numbers of
systems which are more or less out of
control. And most of our systems
have reached the stage of develop¬
ment where we can clearly recognize
the problems involved in any future
changes. In many places, data base
management has been seen as the
answer to all the organization's data
processing problems, i.e., mainte-
The data included under the data base
The data covered under data based thinking
nance, flexibility and increasing infor¬
mation requirements. This is often
wishful thinking; unless you change
the systems development process to
make data base thinking an integral
part, it is unlikely that installing a data
base management system will do
much more than make things worse.
It is more or less a truism that the
organizations which made the best
use of the computer were also the
ones that had the best manual and
punched card systems to begin with.
You might be tempted to say that
breeding counts. Organizations
which have a strong respect for sys¬
tematic operations seem to be able to
apply that knowledge at each stage
of development. The same is definite¬
ly true of data base management sys¬
tems. Those organizations which are
the most successful with data bases
are largely those which already have a
solid systems building process to
But organizations in real trouble are
among the most likely to see data
base management as a cheap way
out of their problems. A good many
organizations grasp at data base man¬
agement systems to save them, much
as a drowning man grasping at straws.
But it is precisely in these cases that
data bases are most likely to fail. As a
matter of fact, so will anything else,
except divine intervention.
I have a strong suspicion that
somewhere there is at least one orga¬
nization making excellent use of
every one of the major data base
management packages. And I would
bet even money that somewhere out
there/there is an organization having
monumental problems with every
single one of the major data base sys¬
tems also. There are good and better
data base systems, but the real secret
of success in utilizing a data base
seems to lie in the systems manage¬
ment of the organization seeking to
use data base concepts.
Part of the difficulty involved in
using data base concepts is the
mythology surrounding the area.
Because of some simple misunder¬
standings, many organizations take
their eyes off the fundamental prob¬
lem of systems development and per¬
formance in attempting to come to
grips with the complexities of data
base administration. This is a mistake.
For a data base is simply the aggrega¬
tion of the data requirements of a
number of application systems.
Because a data base exists to aid in
the production of useful output, and
because data which is not used can¬
not be correct, there is no such thing
as an integrated data base without in¬
tegrated application systems.
The data processing universe re¬
volves not around the data base, as
some would have you believe, but
rather around the outputs that our
application and management systems
. are called upon to produce. In far too
many organizations, the building of a
total corporate data base has become
the "Bermuda Triangle" where one
project after another is lost without a
What the world needs is not better
data base software, though heaven
knows that would certainly help; no,
what we need is serious application
of structured data based thinking. We
have found that when organizations
develop correct approaches to defin¬
ing systems, they get a good data
base design as a by-product. Recent¬
ly, the heretofore separate worlds of
data base design and systems theory
have begun to come together.
"Data" and "procedure," we find,
simply represent different aspects of
the same reality. What we learn in
one area of systems or data base re¬
search can be carried over directly
into the other. Indeed, when we con¬
centrate on doing the right things in
the right sequence, we are usually
surprised to find that all sorts of good
things happen to us. We come up
with simple workable systems and
elegant, efficient data base designs,
too. But the parts of the systems
problem, procedure and data, exist
together, not separately. Neither can
be developed independently, and
neither can function alone.
Ultimately, form follows function.
Our data bases and our systems must
mirror reality. Because of physical
limitations, that mirroring will always
be an approximation of the real
world. However, if our data bases are
not organized to make them deal
with the real world of the organiza¬
tion, they will hinder rather than help
In the past few years, we have
begun to see the impact of "data
structured" systems design at the
programming level and at the systems
level. We now see the impact that
"structuring data" is apt to have
throughout our organizations. A logi¬
cal systems and data base design rep¬
resents a major breakthrough. The
same tools which are helping us at¬
tack complexity in programming and
systems design are now beginning to
have a significant impact on the de¬
sign and development of integrated
data bases as well. "Structured data
bases" are a natural outcome of
"structured" systems design.
Future articles in this series will cov¬
er the application of structured sys¬
tems design tools to "logical" and
"physical" data base design. □
Editor's note: This article was origi¬
nally prepared by Mr. Orr for the
Second Annual Structured Systems
Design Conference and was pub¬
lished in its copyrighted proceedings.
Reprinted with permission of INFOSYSTEMS, July 1977,
Copyright 1977, Hitchcock Publishing Company.
WITH ROGER H.
A. G. W. (Jack) Biddle, president of the Computer and Com¬
munications Industry Association, doesn’t fool around. Perceiv¬
ing a problem, he quickly develops a solution. More often
than not, it's controversial. Take the question of how stan¬
dards are set — or, really, aren’t set — in the computer/
Early this year, Biddle complained that standards development
"has been marred by generally uninspired thinking, selfish
corporate interests and incessant foot dragging (by) the larger,
established suppliers." So he suggested a federally chartered
standards board — for the electronic funds transfer area.
Chiding the Federal Government for "never really" encoura¬
ging data processing standards development, Biddle pointed
out that: "It has been ten years since the Brooks Bill became
law; yet there are still no meaningful hardware -- and relative¬
ly few software -- standards for ADP equipment." The re¬
sult, Biddle scowled: "Untold millions of tax dollars have
been wasted because of the inability to freely shift peripheral
equipment and software within the federal ADP inventory.
There are still no mechanisms in GSA, OMB or NBS to facili¬
tate the adoption of ADP standards, and, until Congress pro¬
vides these, our government will continue to waste our taxes."
Now, some seven months later, Biddle's basic suggestion has
been written into a proposed law: S. 825, the Voluntary Stan¬
dards and Accreditation Act of 1977. Sponsored by James
Abourezk (D-SD), the bill goes far beyond EFT standards.
And it's getting a lot of flak from the American National
Standards Institute (Ansi), the Computer and Business Equip¬
ment Manufacturers' Association (Cbema) and the American
Society for Quality Control (ASQC).
Essentially, the bill would set up an independent, government-
financed National Standards Management Board and a new,
NBS-based Institute of Standards and Accreditation (ISA).
Both, presumably, would replace Cbema and ASQC as the
Ansi secretariats for standards-setting. The bill vests overall
standards-making responsibility in the Secretary of Commerce,
giving the ISA power to set standards if private organizations
fail to do so.
Testifying before the Senate Antitrust and Monopoly Subcom¬
mittee, Biddle cited many of the problems he criticized when,
before S. 825 was written, he first proposed a new standards
procedure. In the computer/communications industry, Biddle
admitted, "We have numerous standards dealing with how
a magnetic tape reel should be labeled...as well as standard
numerical designations for cities." But, he complained,
"We do not have standard higher level computer languages"
the bull's eye
that permit program interchangeability. Also absent, he
argued, are standards for "the efficient high-speed usage
of computer/communications networks" and for the intercon¬
nection of hardware and software units which comprise a
At fault, Biddle insists, is the voluntary standards-setting
procedures used now. And he finds five bugaboos: Volun¬
tary standards bodies act only in their own self-interests.
Industry giants dominate the standards process because
participation in it is too expensive for smaller producers.
Consumer or general-interest participants, lacking technical
expertise, are at the mercy of representations made by the sup¬
pliers. The "inordinate time required to reach a consensus"
among participants means that voluntary standards lag techni-
cological developments. Suppliers resist standards which,
they fear, might restrict available design options or disclose
product and marketing strategies.
Getting more specific, Biddie contends that "voluntary stan¬
dards activity...has been carried out under auspices and control
of the trade association (Cbema) which represents IBM and
the other systems competitors." He also points out that Ansi
gave up after five years of working on a standard for intercon¬
necting peripheral equipment with host computers. Then,
after several CCIA member companies spent four years and
$350K trying to get the project moving again, Biddle says,
"it had become patently clear that the systems suppliers
were not working on a good-faith basis toward development
of a neutral standard that would benefit both users and pro¬
viders." (Now, Ansi is circulating a proposed standard for
public review. But it's the de facto IBM standard. And it's
getting lots of heat from systems suppliers.) Biddle further
zings the present system by pointing out that the NBS took
"little initiative" to promote interconnection standards for
peripherals despite a ten-year-old legislative mandate (under
PL 89-306, the Brooks Bill) to do so.
Interestingly, in their opposition to S. 825, Ansi, Cbema and
ASQC never refute Biddle's charges directly. Ansi Execu¬
tive Vice President Donald I. Peyton says present laws "are
totally adequate to provide oversight for voluntary (standards)
activity." Robert W. Shearman, ASQC executive director,
says "The present voluntary consensus standards system works
as a fair and equitable arena for commercial product and
service standards." Improvements don't need more federal
law, he says. ASQC contends S. 825 would cost three times
more than the present system. Cbema President Peter F.
McCloskey argues that voluntary standards practices have
"operated successfully for over 75 years". To Cbema,
the bill is "premature and unwarranted."
S. 825 is due for a Subcommittee vote probably next month
Then it goes to the full Judiciary Committee. Meanwhile,
Jack Biddle is perceiving other problems — and solutions.
Reprinted with permission of Datacomm Advisor, August 1977,
Copyright 1977. Mr. Allen is the Managing Editor of Datacomm Advisor,
the monthly newsletter of International Data Corporation, and is also
a contributing editor for Distributed Data Processing Newsletter.
Econometrics Gains Many New Followers,
But the Accuracy of Forecasts Is Unproven
By Lindley H. Clark Jr.
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
A century and a half ago, Antoine-Augus¬
tin Cournot, a French economist and mathe¬
matician, mused about a system of equa¬
tions that would explain all the interwork¬
ings of the economy and thus help to fore¬
cast the future. Alas, he concluded, such a
system was beyond human powers.
Today, however, many economists are
relying heavily on such equations in a popu¬
lar (if unproven) process called model build¬
ing, or econometrics. Using past relation¬
ships among factors affecting the economy
—population, weather, wars, government
policies—the economists set up the equa¬
tions to try to predict trends.
Although there isn’t any solid evidence
that model building produces much better
predictions than any other forecasting
method, businessmen in the current uncer¬
tain economy are highly curious about the
future and how to plan for it. And they are
relying more and more on econometrics.
A Boom for the Specialists
The result has been a business boom for
the small group of economic consulting
firms using econometrics. Among them:
—Data Resources Inc. of Lexington,
Mass., the only publicly held consulting
firm. It reported net income of $1.5 million
last year, an increase of 70% from the year
-Wharton Econometric Forecasting As¬
sociates, a nonprofit company owned by the
University of Pennsylvania. It has more
than 200 clients, double the number four
years ago. It is actively adding to its ser¬
vices, according to F. Gerard Adams, trea¬
surer, “so that we’ll match Data Resources
line for line.’’
—Chase Econometric Associates of Bala
Cynwyd, Pa., a subsidiary of New York’s
Chase Manhattan Bank. It has built its cli¬
ent list to more than 600, with some firms
paying annual fees as high as $50,000.
—Merrill Lynch Economics, an affiliate
of the brokerage firm of Merrill Lynch,
Pierce, Fenner & Smith, today will demon¬
strate its new econometric modeling system
at a luncheon at New York’s World Trade
Center. “We’re launching ourselves full-
scale into the econometric area,” Albert H.
Cox Jr., president of the affiliate, says.
Among other things, Merrill Lynch will
make a 400-equation model of the economy
available to clients through two computer
The Role of Computers
For better or for worse, computers have
played a large role in the growth of econo¬
metrics. For one thing, they have made it
possible for econometricians to handle much
larger models of the economy, solving
hundreds of equations in a short space of
In addition, clients of the major consult¬
ing services now often have computer ter¬
minals in their offices. By tapping the
proper keys on the terminal, a client can
call forth current economic data from a
computer storage center. Or he can “run”
the model himself.
Because no equation can be solved if it
contains nothing but unknowns, the client,
like the econometrician, has to make some
assumptions—about government tax policy,
for example. The client, in fact, can make a
variety of assumptions, playing what the
econometricians call “what-if” games.
Data Resources Inc., the largest of the
consulting firms, saw the lure of computers
from the start, leasing its own equipment. It
also invested manpower and money in build¬
ing up a huge “data bank,” a collection of
constantly updated economic statistics.
A Lure for Clients
As a result, Data Resources has been
able to sign up many clients who wouldn’t
have been attracted merely by the economic
analyses of its president, Otto Eckstein, the
Harvard economist and former chairman of
the President’s Council of Economic Advis¬
ers. One Data Resources client, for instance,
is New York’s Citibank, which has its own
large economics department.
According to Charles Warden, Data Re¬
sources vice president, the firm, founded in
1969, “turned its first profit in February
1971, and we haven’t looked back.” When
the firm first offered stock to the public last
fall, it reported that its profits had risen
substantially each year since 1971.
When the first econometric forecasting
group was set up at Wharton in 1963, its
model was solved with mechanical calcula¬
tors, not computers. After Data Resources
started, Wharton put its model on the Data
Resources computer system-but it soon de¬
cided there were disadvantages in having a
competitor market its model.
In 1973, Wharton signed a contract with
Boeing Computer Services, a subsidiary of
the airplane manufacturer; Boeing now of¬
fers Wharton’s models and data to clients.
The major model of the U.S. economy,
which is used to make quarterly forecasts,
has since been supplemented by a long-term
model, an agricultural model, foreign mod¬
els and other services.
Emphasis on Research
As befits an affiliate of a major univer¬
sity, Wharton has always put strong empha¬
sis on pure research. “We aren’t as aggres¬
sive as a profit-seeking corporation,” Mr.
Adams says. “But we operate in, a profit-
seeking environment, and we act accord¬
ingly.” One indication: The firm is steadily
absorbing more space in the university
building where it is located; a large confer¬
ence room once used to present the quar¬
terly forecasts, now holds the desks of five
The models and data of Chase Econome¬
tric Associates are made available to clients
through computer terminals offered by two
time-sharing firms: ADP Network Services
of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Interactive Data
Corp. of Waltham, Mass. “If one system
should go down, the other one is always
available as a backup,” the firm tells pro-
spective clients in a brochure.
Merrill Lynch Economics will work
through Interactive Data and National CSS
Inc., of Norwalk, Conn. Merrill Lynch
Ecoomics recently hired two men from Data
Resources to help to beef up its econome¬
trics capability—Gary Ciminero and Dick
Most of the other major consulting firms
so far are holding back from a full commit¬
ment to econometrics and computers. But
business at most firms still seems to be
good, although they don’t disclose financial
results. It’s evident, for example, that Town-
send-Greenspan & Co. expanded its activi¬
ties even while its president, Alan Green¬
span, was away serving as President Ford’s
chief economic adviser.
Results Are Unspectacular
But Townsend-Greenspan and nearly all
other consultants now use econometrics to
some extent. The attractions of the system
don’t stem from a spectacularly successful
forecasting record; like other forecasters,
econometricians have had their troubles in
Since 1968 the American Statistical Asso¬
ciation and the National Bureau of Eco¬
nomic Research have been jointly collecting
forecasts from a panel of business econo¬
mists—some who used econometrics and
some who didn’t. In 1975 Vincent and Jose¬
phine Su, two National Bureau economists,
presented an evaluation of the forecasts in
the bureau’s publication, Explorations in
The conclusions didn’t offer any comfort
to anybody. “No method predicts consis¬
tently better or worse than other methods,
and no method predicts consistently better
in levels or in changes,’’ the researchers
said. They also compared the two associa¬
tions’ forecasts with those produced by the
Wharton econometric model. The conclu¬
sion: There isn’t any clear evidence that the
associations’ forecasts are any better—or
As business expands, the econometri¬
cians are trying hard to explain to new
clients that their models aren’t a magic so¬
lution to all business problems. Michael K.
Evans, president of Chase Econometric As¬
sociates, says he tells his clients that “my
forecasts are about 50% my judgment ana
about 50% model.’’
“The unfortunate thing about forecasting
is that the future remains the future,” Mr.
Adams of Wharton says. “What we do is
half magic, half science. Science is con¬
cerned with the past. When you get into the
future, it’s part magic.”
In analyzing the workings of the economy
and setting up equations to portray them,
the econometricians have to rely on the
ways the economy has worked in the past.
Unfortunately for forecasters, the economy
doesn’t always continue to work in precisely
the way it did in the past.
Despite the undistinguished forecasting
record, it is hard to find many economists
who will knock econometrics. A. Gary Shil¬
ling, director of White Weld Economic Ser¬
vices, uses econometrics in only a limited
way. But he stresses that it is good for simu¬
lations, for the “what-if” games. An econo¬
metric equation give* a logical structure of
economic relationships. Using such equa¬
tions “assures an internal consistency” in
your forecasting, Mr. Shilling says.
Econometricians have helped to expand
the market for their products by bringing
them doown closer to the level of the people
actually running business corporations. “In
the beginning,” Mr. Evans recalls, “all We
had was a large model of the U.S. economy.
Now we’re making regional and industry
forecasts, and we can help companies fore¬
cast the markets for their own products.”
Both Chase and Data Resources now are
forecasting foreign-exchange rates. Charles
Warden, vice president of Data Resources,
says, “Our exchange-rate forecasts are ac¬
cepted because they’re useful. They may not
always be exactly on target, but they point
to the turns and the magnitude of the
Reprinted with permission of The Wall Street Journal ,
Dow Jones and Company, August 2, 1977, Copyright 1977.
All rights reserved.
Computer Show’s Message:
‘Be the First on Your Block’
By LEE DEMBART
Special to The New York Time*
BOSTON, Aug. 25—The computer
revolution seems endless. Every six
months, a new product comes along
that outdates everything before it. The
latest is the microcomputer, based on
the same technology as the pocket cal¬
culator but capable of putting a power¬
ful computer into homes and small
Several thousand people, many of
them students or businessmen, turned
out here today.for “Computermania,”
a .major exposition of microcomputers
carrying price tags of $300 to $3,500.
The displays were extensive, the ex¬
hibitors excited and the computer en¬
thusiasts eager to study everything
Limited Only to Imagination
But no one could say for sure why
people might need a computer at home..
“For fun” seemed the most honest an¬
swer. Some manufacturers said a home
computer could balance a checkbook,
although a $15 calculator could do the
same thing. The personal computer
seems to be a spectacular toy in search
of a use.
“Sometimes it is difficult/to explain
to somebody what they need it for just
as it would have been difficult to ex¬
plain to someone in 1850 what they
needed an automobile for,” said Dave
Armitage, president of Computer
Power Inc. of Warwick, R.I., who was
demonstrating a Sol terminal computer.
“The uses of a machine like this are
limited only to the user’s imagination.”
At another booth, Steve Jobs was
demonstrating the Apple II computer,
which is the size of a portable type¬
writer and hooks up to a regular televi¬
sion set. It plays games', displays color
graphics or does sophisticated mathe¬
matics. Mr. Jobs suggested that ama¬
teur radio operators could use the
$1,300 device to figure frequency skips
and that investors could use it to ch
and that investors could use it to chart
stock prices or do commodity spreads.
A Keyboard and Power Chip
But, Mr. Jobs agreed, “most people
are buying computers not to do some¬
thing practical but to find out about
computers. Jt will be a consumer prod¬
uct, but it isn’t now. The programs are¬
n’t here yet.”
On the outside, all of the personal
computers have a keyboard, much like
those of a typewriter, and a-display
screen or a capability for attaching to
one. Inside, their key ^element is a
micro-processor chip that is a computer
on a piece of silicon a quarter-inch
square. The chip has the power of the
original Eniac computer of 1949, which
took up a city block.
Three years ago, there wfere no
microcomputers. People who wanted
computers at home had to rent or buy.
a terminal and plug in to a large com¬
puter somewhere, frequently at a uni*?
versity, where they would be one of
a hundred other users in a time-sharing
“Compared to time- sharing, the
microc omputer is very, very powerful,”
said^Gordon Stitt- who was demon¬
strating the IMS AT system, 10,000 of
which have been sold in the last year
and a half.
The only thing that big computers
do better than microcomputers is a lot
of arithmetic. By computer standards,
microprocessors are slow at math,
capable of doing several hundred addi¬
tions a second as against hundreds of
thousands by the big ones.
Small Business Market
The personal computer industry,
which is estimated to total $30 million
a year (up from $5 million two years
ago) thinks its biggest market today
is not the home hobbyist but thesmall
business with sales of $250,000 a year
or less. Up to now, computer time was
too expensive for such enterprises.
“It used to be hobbyists,” said Alan
Hald, own&r- of the Byte Shop of
Tempe, Ariz., which calls itself the af¬
fordable computer store. “Now it is
more personal business users.”
Ervin Fraser, a data processing man¬
ager in Boston, said became to the
show today to see what innovations
there had been. “You go away for three
months and come back, you find things
you never heard of before,” he said.
A 19-year-old junior at the Massa¬
chusetts Institute of Technology, Man¬
uel Ulloa, said he planned to buy a
personal computer because, “you can
take it in your room and turn the lights
“If you invert a matrix on a big com¬
puter, that’s nothing,” Mr. Ulloa said.
“But if you add two plus two on your
own computer, that’s something.”
Reprinted with permission of The New York Times,
August 26, 1977, Copyright 1977.