Open Architectures Broaden the User Options in Office Automation.
Departmental computers fit between the large mainframes and personal computers in an organization's processing hierarchy. They are particularly suited to handling the needs of work groups, with their ability to integrate personal computers and mainframe systems, support data-base management and application-program development and permit both local and remote communications.
Xerox's Next Generation
Xerox's open Ethernet strategy of publishing network protocols and encouraging licensing arrangement seems to have paid dividents. The firm claims thnere are now more than 20,000 Ethernet networks installed and operating in customer facilities around the world, and well over 200 companies are producing Ethernet-compatible products and network supplies.
In April, Xerox announced it would follow the same strategy with its next-generation network offerings. According to Robert Adams, president of the Xerox Systems Group, the firm's long-range communications plan is to develop multiple local network other vendors. "Just as we've openly shared specifications for the Ethernet local network," Adams says, "we will continue to release detailed information on our expanded communications facilities as it becomes available." Adams says the communications plan will permit users to have access to wide-area and value-added networks, as well as to specialized services such as teletex, financial data bases and general-purpose electronic mail facilities. Users will also be able to use other vendor's cabling plans as they become between defined and accepted, he adds. During the next several years, Xerox plans to introduce an array of office networks designed to serve a broad range of user requirements.
"These networks may use a variety of physical media, from twisted pair to fiber optics, in addition to the coaxial cable and its variants presently in use on Ethernet networks," Adams says. One oif the earliest of the new local-communications networks will be a low-cost, entry-level network linking personal computers, word processors and electronic typewriters. Intended for use by small work groups, the network will interconnect a variety of industry-standard personal computers in addition to many Xerox products.
Underlying this and future network offerings is a communications architecture called Xerox Network Service (XNS), which isolates communications functions from "production work." XNS is an open system, with published specifications, that allows for sharing resources, synchronizing distributed data-base contents and the distribution of software. It protects existing equipment investments because it does not require the re-design of any equipment not directly involved in communications. With XNS, text prepared on a professional workstatation that has many complex functions can be editied on a relatively simple personal computer or word processor. Likewise, a document created on a workstation keyboard can be transmitted by facsimile without first being printed. Alternatively, data from a mainframe computer could be mixed with text and graphics and the final document produced by various kinds of printers.
Some of the software and hardware that puts these concepts into effect has been available for a few years, some was explains. However, all of it will be available during the next few years. Because of the company's strong interest in document preparation and production, some of the most complete packages now available control printing.
One example is Interpress, a comprehensive printing language that was announced last year and is now being implemented on the Ethernal network by Xerox and other vendors across a broad range of products. The Interpress standard is a versatile language for describing and manipulating pages to be printed, allowing different manufacturers to link their computers and workstations to a wide variety of electronic printers and output devices. In effect, it provides a standard interface between the person creating a document and any electronic printer on the network.
In announcing its long-range communications plan in April, Xerox also unveiled seven new products, bringing to 30 the number of Xerox office products now operating on Ethernet. Among the products: two word processors, the Xerox 6067 and 6068, and two personal computers, the Xerox 6064 and 6065, capable of running all industry-standard PC software packages. Xerox also unveiled the model 3700 high-quality 24-page-a-minute laser printer and the desktop model 4045 10-page-a-minute laser printer, which can be shared by up to four business computers and doubles as a convenience copier. In addition, Xerox introduced its 6085 professional computer system and companion software called the Viewpoint Series, which supports popular independent software programs in PC emulation mode, and also provides enhanced capabilities for creating, distributing and printing information.
AppleTalk Links Macintosh Office
Apple Computer has also published the protocols of its recently announced local network, AppleTalk, to spur developers to provide innovative products for use on the network. More than 50 companies reportedly have products under development for AppleTalk, including devices that connect Apple computers with IBM PCs, an AppleTalk interface to the Ethernet local-area network and gateways to IBM networks.
AppleTalk is the backbone of The Macintosh Office, whose goal is to increase the productivity of knowledge workers through improved communications. "With AppleTalk we hope to do for networks what personal computers did for computing--bring the services easily and affordably to a great many people," says Barbara Koalkin, Macintosh office products marketing manager. For a suggested retail price of only $50 a connection, AppleTalk allows Macintosh and other personal computers to share peripherals and lets up to 32 computers and peripheral devices communicate with each other within work areas of 1,000 feet. AppleTalk connects as a tributary to other networks for communications outside AppleTalk, and multiple AppleTalk networks can be bridged together to extend beyond 32 connections.
In offices, people spend most of their time working closely with about five to 25 other people, doing related or common projects, says Koalkin. "Networks for these offices have been complicated to install, hard to use and expensive, all of which have limited the number of personal computers currently on networks to less than five percent," she says. "The AppleTalk design has been optimized to be a work-group networking solution that is extremely easy to install and use, thus making it more attractive to work groups and businesses of all sizes."
$50 Per Connection
Much of the AppleTalk architecture is already built into Macintosh and will be built inot all the peripherals designed for the network. Devices connected to the network exchange data over a shared, shielded twisted-pair cable using an Ethernet-like CSMA/CA (carrier-sense multiple access with collision avoidance) protocol. Apple says it was able to maximize use of the network's 230.4-kb/s bandwidth by designing very efficient software protocols, so that data can be transferred at speeds comparable to those of networks with much higher bandwidths. The suggested retail price of $50 for AppleTalk includes the AppleTalk connector and two meters of cable; additional 10-meter cables and connectors can be purchased, and, later in the year, 100-meter custom-wiring kits will also be available.
Another element of The Macintosh Office is the LaserWriter, a high-resolution laser printer that can be shared in a work group to print such documents as newsletters, overhead transparencies, business forms, memos, brochures and reports. Priced at $6,995, the Laser-Writer achieves full-page 300-dots-per-inch output through a Canon LBP-CX 10 engine, a powerful built-in computer desgned by Apple and a software language called PostScript.
"The LaserWriter is a breakthrough in visual communications that will change the way people do business on paper," says Koalkin. "The LaserWRiter not only replaces daisy-wheel and dot-matrix printers, but in many instances it obviates the need to got to an art department or print shop for typesetting and pasteup." The LaserWriter has AppleTalk built in, so that one printer can be shared by up to 31 people in a work group. It also has an RS-232 port to connect it to devices outside AppleTalk.
Work with Groups
Apple's office-automation strategy is based on research showing that knowledge workers spend about 80 percent of their time working closely with five to 25 other people; the remaining 20 percent of the time workers need to reach beyond this group. Apple says The Macintosh Office provides tools to let knowledge workers communicate within the work group and tie into outside information. Over the next few years it plans to introduce a series of products to meet the needs of work groups.
For instance, work groups sharing a network need centralized storage for files and electronic mail. Apple's answere will be the file server, with 20M and 40M-byte capacities, available this fall. It will come with built-in computer, software that provides file transfer, electronic maid and print spooling, and built-in file-management software that will form the basis of multi-user applications to be developed by third parties. The Macintosh Office will also include a variety of file server and shared-disk products from third parties, ranging in price and features.
By fall, Apple says it will also have a card for the IBM PC that will allow Macintoshes and IBM PCs to share and exchange data over the AppleTalk network. By 1986 the company plans to expand its network to the departmental level, connecting work groups to each other, including connections to IBM's System/36 and mainframe computers through IBM's cabling system and possibly an SNA gateway. Also, to make departmental computing a reality, Apple will form alliances with a number of minicomputer firms this year. By 1987, Apple believes it will have entire families of highend workstations, laser printers and network file servers that will make it a major force in corporate office automation installations.
Wang Integrates Info Processing
Wang Labs has expanded its office-automation strategy to encompass "integrated information processing," which it defines as the ability to move, store and manipulate the four forms of information--text, data, voice and images--to meet the user's business needs within the office. Unlike other vendors, Wang sees the network, not the host, as the center of corporate-wide integrated information processing (IIP).
"This network should connect the host, the department, and the user to provide a free flow and exchange of information," says Wang President John Cunningham. "With the network as the center of corporate IIP, the ability to move, store and process information can be distributed locally to those who need it, increasing performance and productivity in a way that a host-based system cannot approach." This "departmental," or "application," data processing is a fundamental tenet of Wang's IIP strategy. It "provides users with the control necessary to do their jobs at the desktop or department level," Cunningham says.
Providing the overall communications umbrella for the strategy is Wang Systems Networking (WSN), a set of products linking Wang systems and providing gateways to other vendor environments. By following the layered architecture of the Open Systems Interconnection reference model developed by the International Standards Organization, the WSN products allow Wang systems to exchange information over local and wide-area, host-controlled and public data networks. Frederick Wang, executive vice president, describes WSN as a "single framework linking past, present and future networking products, consistent with out goals of increasing systems integration and network transparency." (For additional details on WSN products, see Communications News, June 1984, page 50.)
Other products integral to Wang's IIP strategy include the firm's VS family of minicomputers and super-minicomputers, the Wang Professional Computer, the PIC image-processing system and the Wang Office Assistant, a low-cost, multitasking computer designed specifically for secretarial applications. As part of its WSN strategy, Wang has also introduced a "pathway" between its VS systems and an IBM or IBM plug-competible host over an IBM 3270 SNA or bisync network. Known as the Information Distribution System, the family of software products provides communications among VA systems and the mainframe host in the form of a store-and-forward service.
Wang's broadban local-area network, WangMet, is an open network capable of supporting a wide variety of Wang and non-Wang equipment. It allows data, text, image and video information to be exchanged concurrently across the network. Wang also offers a set of integrated network-based application packages for Wang systems, called Wang Office, that provide time and task management, electronic mail and messaging, and business graphics, a well as work processing, file management and data inquiry and reporting. User-written applications can also be added to a Wang Office network. Wang has also enhanced its DVX automated voice communications system, adding message management and word processing capabilities.
AT&T's New Workstation Class
AT&Ths describes its open Information Systems Architecture (ISA) as a "system of systems" that makes change work for business instead of against. AT&T says ISA will proted users' investments in communications and data processing equipment by enabling them to easily upgrade, and by providing connections to the system they already have.
In March, AT&T unveiled the latest products in its office automation arsenal, including a "new class" of workstation, the Unix PC, and an inexpensive network to link them together. The Unix PC, which starts at $5,590, combines extensive voice and data communications capabilities with the ability to do several jobs at once for more than one person. AT&T also introduced an integrated voice/data terminal, the AT&T Personal Terminal, for use with its System 75 and 85 PBXs. Priced at $1,795, the unit includes an integrated telephone, speakerphone, modem and touch-sensitve screen.
In addition, AT&T announced enhancements to the PC 6300 personal comptuer that positions it against the IBM PC AT. One enhancement, the Communications Manager, features a built-in modem, simultaneous voice and data transmission and one-buttom dialing. AT&T has also added a 20M-byte hard disk, Microsoft's Xenix operating system and a very high-speed co-processor.
AT&T's new local network, Starlan, is reportedly the first to lkink Unix and PC-DOS machines. Its lower-level protocols follow the proposed IEEE 802.3 standard for CSMA/CD operation at 1 Mb/s, while its upper-level protocols are compatible with the IBM PC Network and Microsoft's MS Network. This means that software developed for these networks will function with Starlan. Due to become available in the fourth quarter, Starlan will interconnect the Unix PC, the 6300 PC, AT&T's 3B line of processors and asynchronous terminals over standard telephone wiring. In addiion, connections will be provided between Starlan and IBM's SNA, X.25 and Ethernet networks. AT&T says Starlan can also serve as a gateway to its Information System Network (ISN), a larger general-purpose networking scheme that makes use of two-pair wiring, fiber-optic cable and packet switching to connect a wide variety of integrated voice/data systems, PCs, ASCII terminals and PBXs. ISN was introduced last year, along with 3BNet, a 10-Mb/s, Ethernet-like network for interconnecting AT&T's 3B computers.
Up to 1200 devices can connect to Starlan in either daisy-chain or star arrangements, or a combination of the two. Each Unix PC and 6300 connected to the network requires a $595 interface board and $125 software package. Other elements include network extension units for 11-link clusters, also available in the fourth quarter for $595, and RS-232 interfaces for asynchronous terminals, available in the first quarter of 1986 at $750. Each 3B computer requires an $895 interface unit and $395 network program, both available in the first quarter of 1986, while the interface module for Starlan-ISN links will be available in the second quarter of 1986 for $2800.
IBM Meets Its Commitment
IBM announced its office-automation strategy in 1980 with a "statement of direction," which committed the firm to putting its range of office systems into a cohesive network so that users could create documents on one system, review and edit them on another, and then mail them to recipients on still other IBM systems. To provide a framework for this strategy, IBM first supplemented its Systems Network Architecture with two additional office architectures: Document Content Architecture (DCA), which proides the ground rules for describing the internal structure of information for document distribution and similar applications; and Document Interchange Architecture (DIA), which provides the rules for functions such as distributing , filing and retrieving information. In effect, DIA is the envelope that helps ensure that a message reaches its destination, while DCA takes care of the content of the letter or memo. IBM also introduced an extension to SNA, Systems Network Architecture Distribution Services (SNADS), which permits document distribution among various systems.
Last October, IBM built on these capabilities, announcing a series of programs called the IBM Office Systems Family (OSF) that permit the exchange of information in networks of IBM PC, System/36 and System/370 users, as well as with existing IBM office systems such as the DisplayWriter, the 8100 information system and the 5520 administrative system. Documents and messages can be exchanged between systems because the new programs are based on IBM's DIA/DCA office architectures.
"We are increasing the ways that users can connect IBM personal computers, departmental and host systems, and exchange information among them--as well as providing programs for common text processing and personal services," explains Joseph Guglielmi, vice president of general and office systems marketing for IBM's National Accounts Division. "The System/36, our newest departmental system, now incorporates these functions in an integrated data and text processing environment, complimenting our existing office systems solutions."
One of the OSF offerings, Disoss/370 release 3.3 allows for the exchange of final-form documents between host systems with Disoss/370 Multiple Virtual Storage (MWS) and IBM's other popular office system host program, Professional Office Systems/Virtual Machine (PROFS/VM). This completes an October 1983 statement of direction and further integrates IBM office systems functioning under MWS and VM operating systems. IBM says it intends to provide for the exchange of revisable-form documents between Disoss/370 and PROFS users.
In a further statement and direction, IBM says it intends to provide the following:
* Access to System/36 and System/38 library and distribution services for PC users.
* Access to Disoss/370 library services for both System/36 and PC users.
* Access to Disoss/370 library and distribution services for PC users attached to an IBM PC network or other IBM networks.
* Personal Services/370 capabilities, such as electronic mail and library functions and the ability to create and update electronic distribution lists, for users attached to a processor running the time-sharing option of the MWS operating system.
Capitalizing on the popularity of the IBM PC, third-party software suppliers have developed a number of office-automation tools, ranging from electronic spreadsheets and data-base-management programs to electronic mail and time management. Also, the IBM PC can now outperform the most powerful dedicated word processing systems thanks to software packages such as the Samna Word III from Samna Corporation of Atlanta.
Samna recently announced Version 3.0 of its popular word processing software, and of its integrated Samna + package that includes spreadsheet and "word-base-management" capabilities. The new versions are faster than their predecessors and also support IBM's DCA architecture. In addition, the firm is offering its software for local-area network applications, starting with support for Novel and 3Com LANs, with plans to add support for IBM PCNet soon. In another move into the IBM world, the firm has developed a new family of mainframe computer software products, called Samna/dart, that allow dissimilar word processors and personal computers to exchange editable documents and to drive high-speed laser printers. The package lets users create documents and store them in a document manager on a mainframe computer. Once there, documents can be accessed by any authorized user linked to the mainframe via IBM 2780/3780 communications methods.
Other software suppliers are bridging the gap between IBM and rival office automation systems. Software Research Corporation of Natick, Massachusetts, offers a Disoss interface package called Docupower, which allows users to store and distribute documents among IBM and non-IBM office-automation equipment in a network.
Digital Unveils Workstation Strategy
Digital Equipment Corporation also views communications as the cornerstone of its office-automation strategy. Digital bases its strategy on an E-shaped corporate information structure, where the horizontal legs represent functions at the personal, departmental and corporate level, and the vertical leg symbolizes the communications needed to provide access to information across all levels.
Digital supports this strategy with a variety of workstations and an integrated menu-based software package, the All-in-1 office and information system. All-in-1 offers generic functions like word processing along with job-specific functions such as sales analysis, while at the same time providing a common interface among personal, departmental and corporate functions. As for communications, DECnet Phase IV allows users of Digital systems to share programs, data files and other computer resources throughout the network. It also supports Ethernet and provides gateways to X.25 and SNA networks.
In April, the firm announced a series of software products aimed at further integrating Digital and IBM networks. One products, DECnet-DOS, integrates IBM personal computers into a DECnet network, allowing it to communicate and share data with other DECnet nodes rather than acting simply as a dumb terminal. Three other software packages help people communicate between Digital and IBM SNA-based systems, while two new protocol emulators provide communications links from Digital's Micro/RSX operating system to the IBM environment.
According to Bob Murray, manager of networks and communications marketing, the products are part of Digital's strategy to provide customers with a single network where people can take advantage of the strengths of many different computing environments to get their jobs done. "What we are providing is the best possible interconnection at three levels, the corporate, departmental and personal," he says.
Digital's latest offerings build on a series of DECnet/SNA interconnection products introduced last October for interconnecting corporate and departmental resources. One product, the Disoss Document Exchange Facility, provides users on a DECnet network with full functionality in an IBM SNA network. A second, the Distributed Host Command Facility, enables IBM 3270 users in a SNA network to use the terminals on a distributed VAX network and realize the benefits of electronic mail and VMS resources provided by the Digital system.
Last December, Digital registered another idustry first with a new version of All-in-1 that includes an integrated voice system. With the addition of DECtalk Mail Access and Voice Messaging Support, users can access electronic mail messages and other All-in-1 documents over any pushbutton telephone, as well as receive voice and message notification in their All-in-1 inbox. "All-in-1 is the first office system that totally integrates both voice store-and-forward, and voice access over electronic mail and documents," claims Michael Carabetta, voice systems marketing manager. "Users can send or receive important messages from anywhere there is a pushbutton phone."
DECtalk Mail Access uses DECtalk, Digital's high-quality text-to-speech synthesizer, to deliver All-in-1 office system messages over the telephone. The user simply places a telephone call with the pushbutton phone to his or her electronic mailbox. DECtalk answers and requests an identification number. Once the ID number is supplied and the caller has been authorized, DECtalk reads the desired messages. Users can listen to mail in their in-boxes, or select specific messages, delete mail, answer mail with a standard reply, or stop, pause, resume or repeat the message. DECtalk Mail Access also permits users to "read" messages or documents stored in the All-in-1 filing folders.
"With All-in-1 Voice Messaging Support, users are notified of voice or text mail through a single source, the All-in-1 terminal," Carabetta notes. "This eliminates the need to check voice messages on one system and text mail on another." When a voice message is received, short text message is sent to the user's All-in-1 electronic in-box. The text outlines details of the voice message, including who sent it, when it was received and its length. The recipient can decide when to listen to voice messages, just as he or she can choose when to read text messages. To listen to a voice message, a user enters the appropriate command of the All-in-1 terminal; his or her telephone then rings automatically to deliver the message. Currently, All-in-1 Voice Messaging Support software is available to users of Voice-mail International's voice mail system. DECtalk Mail Access software is priced at $4500, and All-in-1 Voice Messaging Support software at $7500.
At the recent Office Automation Conference in Atlanta, Digital unveiled another element of its office-automation strategy, announcing a means for users and third-party suppliers to integrate departmental applications with the office capabilities of All-in-1. The $150 All-in-1 Integration Kit takes advantage of the file and human-interface architecture built into the second version of All-in-1. It documents the architecture and includes guides explaining how to integrate business applications with All-in-1. Digital made use of the kit in developing the first occupation-specific package for All-in-1, gearing it to sales and marketing applications.
A month later, Digital held another press briefing to explain how personal computing fits into the company's office-workstation strategy and to announce new products and product enhancements based on its strategy. Digital introduced a new member of its Rainbow family, software to convert Rainbows into office workstations and enhancements to its DECmate and Professional Office Workstations. The company also announced it is extending its WPS word processing software and its DECnet networking capabilities to the Rainbow.
Designed for top-of-the-line personal computing in an office environment, the new Rainbow 190 is compatible with the rest of the Rainbow family and includes a 10M-byte hard disk, 640K bytes of memory, MS-DOS Version 2.11 and a Gold Key keyboard for $6,495. It also includes the Rainbow Office Workstation software, which integrates Rainbow functions with VAX and All-in-1 environments.
Henry Ancona, group manager of Digital's Office and Information Systems Group, notes that the Rainbow 190 typifies Digital's office workstation strategy, which is based on two key points. "First, there is no such thing as a universal workstation; users want the right workstation for the right job, at the right price," he says. "Second, stand-alone personal computing in the office is a thing of the past; an individual works in a team and must access, use and share information with other members of his or her team, department and company."
Mainframers Take Aim on OA
Honeywell has also introduced a family of powerful communications-oriented office systems geared to departments that have "sophisticated electronic support needs but lack extensive technical expertise," in the words of Eugene Manno, associate group vice president of the company's Small Computer and Office Systems Business. Based on Honeywell's small-computer technology, the menu-driven Office Management Systems (OMS) 40 and 90 are available in two and three models, respectively. They offer departments extensive office processing capabilities, sophisticated electronic mail and communications facilities, and user-friendly data entry and program development tools. The OMS 40 system is based on the company's 16-bit minicomputer technology; the OMS 90 is based on Honeywell's 32-bit superminicomputers. Depending on the model selected, the systems concurrently support from four to 34 users.
Each system runs under Honeywell's GCOS 6 operating system and is fully compatible with the company's entire DPS 6 small-computer product line. The OMS 40 and 90 feature Honeywell's menu-driven Office Automation Systems software. The integrated OAS software includes text processing, records processing for creating office-level data bases, a calendar feature, calculator capabilities and the InfoCalc system, Honeywell's three-dimensional electronic spreadsheet. A powerful spelling verifier and corrector based on the American Heritage Dictionary covers 80,000 words and allows users to create multiple dictionaries of 750 words apiece that can be tailored to match the vocabulary they use.
The OMS systems provide an extensive range of communications capabilites, including terminal-to-terminal and system-to-system communications, as well as access to time-sharing and public information services. The systems support bisync and SNA-based communications and document transfer capabilities with IBM hosts, as well as document transfer capabilities to remote Honeywell host systems via the company's RNP and DSA networking protocols. The Asynchronous Communications Facility gives users interactive access to TTY-compatible systems and also allows them to tie into public information services, such as Dow Jones and The Source.
Burroughs Makes Bid
In March, Burroughs Corporation made a bid to become a major force in office automation by unveiling the first two of a planned comprehensive lineup of office-automation products, and by announcing a document architecture that will make its computer systems compatible in multi-vendor environments. "As electronic office systems become more widespread, the ability to exchange information between dissimilar systems is becoming a major customer concern," says Robert Holmes, president of Burroughs Worldwide Marketing Organization. "As a total information systems supplier, it is essential that our workstations and mainframes communicate with competitive systems in the office-automation market."
The architecture, called Document Format Architecture (DFA), will work with Burroughs and non-Burroughs network architectures. Initial implementations on workstations will be available in the fourth quarter, with enhancements to follow on other products throughout 1986. According to Holmes, DFA will allow Burroughs systems to exchange information with IBM's DCA and DIA architectures, as well as with other emerging standards such as the US Navy's Document Interchange Format.
"Burroughs' acceptance of DIA is consistent with our goals in communications architectures and design, and does not restrict our development in any way," Holmes claims. "Although we will provide compatibility with DCA, we will not adopt it as our standard. Our emphasis will be on the development of Burroughs DFA. Burroughs will further define DFA to add value to our products in the area of compound documents composed of text, data, graphics, image and voice information."
One of Burroughs' two new products, the OFISwriter 25, is a word processing system that combines Burroughs B25 microcomputer hardware with a specially designed keyboard and new word processing software that reportedly fits the needs of both secretaries and managers. Since it runs all B25 software, the system provides users with both office-automation and data-processing capabilities. The second product, the Office Management System II, brings office-automation capabilities to virtually all Burroughs mainframe computers. The modular software package is designed to increase office productivity in the areas of communications, text processing, filing and information retrieval. Working in conjunction with the OFISwriter 25, it transforms the word processor into an interactive workstation for information distribution and document communications.
Rival mainframers NCR and Sperry also feature workstations for office-automation applications. NCR's WorkSaver-100 series office-automation systems are based on Convergent Technologies' AWS workstations: its WorkSaver-200 series uses Convergent Technologies' IWS workstations. The WS-150 uses all the word and information-processing software available on the other models and supports asynchronous TTY, bisync 2780/3780 and 3270 communications. For business graphics applications, a package known as WorkGraph operates with the optional Multiplan spreadsheet software of the WS-200 models. Receiving statistical information from the Multiplan software, WorkGraph can produce line, bar, pie and combination charts of various sizes.
Sperry's office system, Sperrylink, combines word and data processing, personal computing, electronic mail and voice services with special administrative functions. It is supported bly the Distributed Office Processing Station Model 20, which provides shared resources to a community of up to 15 workstations and a wide variety of office applications, including electronic mail, electronic filing and retrieval, administrative services and office communications. To supplement its microprocessor-based multi-function desk station, Sperrylink offers an optional document reader incorporating advanced optical-character-recognition technology. This device allows typewritten pages to be read directly into the desk station. Once entered, documents can be edited, distributed and filed electronically, allowing office workers to concentrate on more important tasks than manually entering typed documents into the system. Sperrylink software also includes a converter program allowing document compatibility with a number of non-Sperry word processors.
Sperry has also added a voice-response support package to its office products offerings. An enhancement to the company's Voice Information Processing System (VIPS), the voice-response package integrates VIPS with a Sperry Series 1100 host computer, allowing users to interrogate a Series 1100 data base, guided by voice prompts, through any pushbutton telephone in the world.
VIPS is a computer-based voice message store-and-forward system that accepts, digitally records and stores speech in the sender's voice. The digitized messages are stored on a disk while waiting to be delivered to, or accessed by, the intended recipient. "The voice response capabilities enhance the quality of Sperry's VIPS with greater ease-of-use and user friendliness," says Robert Vernon, vice president of Office Information Systems. "The system transforms the universal phone network into a window to the data base resident in the mainframe."
HP Addresses Five Levels of OA
Hewlett-Packard sees a five-level architecture to office automation: personal, work group, department, corporate and public (services). HP addresses these levels with what it calls an "integrated, seamless set of products" spanning the full range of organizational activity and satisfying seven basic needs: individual productivity; integrated applications; shared resources; person-to-person communications; information access and management; networking and multi-vendor communications; and implementation assistance, product training and support.
Last year, the firm introduced its Personal Productivity Center concept as a framework for products that satisfy all seven of the targeted user needs. Its solution combines office automation, data processing, personal computing and communications. To integrate the processing environments of the Touchscreen personal computer and the HP 3000 departmental computer, HP provides products like HP AdvanceLink, which gives Touch-screen users transparent access through the simple Personal Applications Manager to HP 3000 applications; and HP Message, a personal-computer interface to electronic mail. With HP Message, personal computer users can mail text, data, graphics and MS-DOS files to other members of the electronic mail network. Revisable text files can be mailed from personal computer to terminal users, helping secretaries, professionals and managers to work more as a team.
HP's new office workstations, the Touchscreen II and Touchscreen MAX II personal computers, have the same extensive built-in communications and terminal capabilities as their predecessors, but incorporate a 12-inch screen, compared with the nine-inch screens of the earlier models, and they have four accessory slots instead of two. This allows a wider combination of memory and communications cards for greater information-sharing among HP and IBM personal computers, among Touchscreen II personal computers and among HP, IBM and Digital minicomputers and mainframes.
DG Targets Business Automation
Data General bases its strategy for what it calls "business automation" around flexible hardware systems, an integrated working environment, which includes software for office automation, deceision support and business applications, and both system and application-level communications. The firm provides system-level communications through products that support industry and de facto standards such as X.25, SNA, IEEE 802.3 and CPI or DMI PBX connections. It also provides application-level communications links to transfer editable files between systems from DG and other computer companies.
For many organizations, Data General believes departmental computing can be the most cost-effective way to deliver the benefits of business automation to individuals in unique departments or work groups. Typically, these users need to share the same or similar information and may need to access corporate information or public data bases as well. "Data General's approach to departmental computing provides a tier of processing power between the PC and the mainframe," says J. David Lyons, vice president and general manager of Data General's Information Systems Division. "It bridges the gap between small individual systems and large corporate systems by locally managing the office-automation, decision-support and business-application resources required by different work groups."
Emphasizing the importance it places on departmental computing, Data General recently introduced a 32-bit computer for linking mainframes to personal computers for up to 16 users at a cost of under $6,000 per workstation. The
Eclipse MV/4000 Departmental Cluster processor supports more users, twice the main memory and three times the disk capacity of the firm's previous low-end model. It runs the CEO Comprehensive Electronic Office software, as well as a range of operating systems, system and communications software, and programming languages.
Along with the Eclipse MV/4000, Data General introduced three communication interfaces to link its systems with products from other computer vendors: AOS/VS Decision Connection is reportedly the first software interface to Cullinet's IDB software, enabling mainframe access and integration between IBM data bases and Data General's departmental CEO systems; the CEO connection, which allows IBM PC and Data General/One users to access CEO systems; and CEO Document Exchange V, an interface to a third-party document/file conversion devise.
Datapoint has enhanced its Pro-Vista office automation system with several hardware and software additions and a fiber-optic link for its ARC local network. The products include a color computer, Vista-PC, which supports the MS-DOS operating system, and an applications processor, the Vista-Station-84, which incorporates the Intel 16-bit 80286 microprocessor with a low-profile ergonomic keyboard. Datapoint has also unveiled a windowing technique, called Vista-View, which allows a user to "window into" and manage information from multiple office applications simultaneously, and to merge that information into an understandable composite. The fiber-optic link allows users to double the distance between hubs in an ARC network from 2,000 to 4,000 feet. The link also offers immunity to electrical interference in high-noise environments, such as in underground conduits housing electrical lines, and provides enhanced data security since the link is tamper resistant.
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|Date:||Jun 1, 1985|
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