Interconnectability Next Major Personal Computer Phase

Article excerpt

Logical interconectability with mainframes, minis, servers, networks and other microcomputers will be the next significant phase in the development of personal computers, according to many experts in the industry.

As this logical networking technology is perfected, it will allow information in its proper context to be shared with different systems and offer common user interfaces, facilities, applications and information delivery tools. According to one source in the trade press, this next phase will require sophisticated network software whose capabilities substantially exceed those of the most advanced of the current micro-to-mainframe programs, not to mention a new generation of desktop microcomputers that are more powerful and versatile than machines commonly in use today.

"Big Blue's" strategy for these new personal computers is based on an assumption that they will "increasingly become 1-plus millions of instructions per second (MIPS) workstations supported by artificial intelligence and expert systems software, voice and graphics processing lus more integrated, networked applications. These workstations will also develop a healthier appetite for mainframe MIPS. . .to support increased utilization of. . .fourth-generation language compilation and application generation, corporate document handling and electronic mail plus network management and information center resources."

In the interim, IBM is already embracing high-performance, multitasking capabilities with the powerful Intel Corp. 80386, 32-bit microprocessor it will install in the new line of office supermicros it is rumored to be developing for introduction in late 1986 or early 1987.

- IBM has introduced new, more powerful versions of the PC AT and XT, but will charge no more than the earlier models for machines that boast bigger-bore hard disk and memory features. In fact,IBM has also cut their prices on the original PC, XT and AT.

There will be three new XT models which combine features such as a 20-megabyte hard disk, up to 640K of memory on the motherboard and a new RT-like keyboard. The new AT has many of the same features of its older AT brother but operates about 30 percent faster.

IBM is also offering as an option on both machines the internal and external 3 1/2-inch floppy drives necessary to compatibility with the new PC Convertible laptop machine (lending some credence to rumors that IBM has indeed an agenda to phase out 5 1/4-inch floppy drives from its product line).

- IBM has finally responded to pressures to replace its clumsy PC keyboard, introducing a 101-key Enhanced Personal Computer Keyboard to replace the 83-key original nearly everyone loves to hate.

The Enhanced version, which includes two extra function keys and a layout rearranged to make easier communicating with larger systems, was introduced in early April with the new PC XT and AT products and will become a standard feature on all future PC products.

The keyboard is divided physically into four areas, among them a typing section, a numeric pad, a row of function keys and a set of cursor/screen controls. It is reminiscent of the IBM Selectric layout that set an ergonomic standard for typewriters but was abandoned by the misantrop who did the job for the first PCs.

The 12 function keys are arrayed across the top rather than in the two-row cluster to the left on the old keyboard. …