The PC corner.
FOR THOSE OF YOU who haven't heard yet, my firm, Micro-Economics, Ltd. has joined forces with Hill and Knowlton Economics. I am now a vice president of that firm, working out of their St. Louis office. My new address and phone number are:
Hill and Knowlton
101 S. Hanley Rd., Suite 1280
St. Louis, MO 63105
SOME THOUGHTS ON "BRAIN-DEAD" MICROPROCESSORS
Although my parent company, Hill and Knowlton Worldwide, Inc., is the world's largest public relations firm, its budget for computer hardware and software is just as tight as mine was when I owned my own company. Right now, I am using an AT clone with 3 megabytes of RAM (the better to do large 1-2-3 spreadsheets), a 40 megabyte hard disk, a monochrome display, and a switchable 8-12 megahertz 80286 processor. In other words, it's a decent performer in a plain vanilla wrapper. However, our office is interested in getting into presentation graphics work and desktop publishing, so we are going to have to be upgrading our hardware and software soon.
I am recommending that we replace our AT-type machines with 80386SX-based units. For my money, PCs based on the Intel 80386SX chip are the best price-performance choices on the market today, for the following reasons:
1. They can run all of the software being developed for the more powerful 80386 chip. The 80286 chip, upon which the older AT-style machines (and the IBM PS/2 Models 30/286 and 5OZ) are based, is an either/or chip, i.e., it can either run the old MS-DOS software that runs on the first generation 8088 and 8086 chips (and is limited to 640 kilobytes) or it can run the newer 80286-based software (such as OS/2 and Lotus 1-2-3 Release 3), which can use up to 16 megabytes of memory. Unfortunately, it can't do both at the same time, which is a real drawback if a lot of your software is of the older variety. For this reason, as well as the general difficulty encountered in writing software for the 80286, Bill Gates, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft Corporation, has called this chip a "brain-dead" processor - a stop-gap measure that Intel released until it could come out with the 80386 chip. In contrast with the 286, the 386 is capable of running multiple MS-DOS sessions along with 286-type programs, all simultaneously. It is much easier to write software for, and several advanced multiprocessing systems already on the market are written explicitly for it - the best-known example being Micro - soft's Windows/386. 2. Machines based on the 80386SX are considerably less expensive than those using the regular 80386 chip. The main reason for this is that the 80386 chip is a true 32 bit processor, incorporating both internal 32 bit logic and a 32 bit data path to communicate with the outside world. In contrast, while the SX chip has 32 bit internal logic (enabling it to run all software written for the 80386 chip), it uses a 16 bit data path like the 80286. Thus, it is about 20 to 30 percent slower than a full-blown 80386 machine. The good news is that it is considerably cheaper than the more powerful units, because much of the PC's cost is dependent on the width of the data path connecting the various peripherals. A equivalently configured 80386SX-based machine only runs about $200 more than a 80286 model; in contrast, full-blown 80386 models run between 1,200 and 1,500 more. The extra functionality of the 386 architecture is worth the $200, but, unless you need the raw power, it doesn't make sense to spend any more for the pure 386 machine.
A LOW COST SOURCE OF PRESENTATION-QUALITY SLIDES
I recently purchased a copy of Harvard Graphics for use at Hill and Knowlton. Along with it came an offer to try the Autographix slide service. Autographix has service centers throughout the U.S. (but, unfortunately, not yet in St. Louis). I have tried the service center in Memphis and have had excellent results. I can transmit my slide images via modem directly to their Memphis service center and get my slides back via Federal Express by 10 the next morning. The price is right, too - $12 per slide. For more information, contact Autographix at: 100 Fifth Ave., Waltham, MA, 02154. (1-800548-8558).
THUMBS DOWN ON 1-2-3 RELEASE 3
In my column of six months ago, I was quite enthusiastic about the new Release 3 of Lotus 1-2-3. I was premature in my enthusiasm. I had upgraded to Release 3 in order to use it on a large data base application. Unfortunately, it proved to be unusable, due to a glitch in the Data Sort command. Even though my worksheet only occupied about 800 kilobytes (out of over 2 megabytes of available memory), I continually got "Out of Memory" messages whenever I would try to use the Data Sort command. In spite of spending the better part of two days on the phone with Lotus product support, I was unable to get my sorts done. Luckily, thanks to my Softbytes extended/expanded memory manager (which I have written about in previous columns), I was able to shoehorn my application into Release 2.01. I have not used my Release 3 since. I would be interested in hearing whether any of you out there have encountered similar difficulties with either Release 3 or 2.2.
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|Title Annotation:||personal computers|
|Author:||Qualls, John H.|
|Article Type:||buyers guide|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1990|
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