DALLAS _ Tandy Corp. has fired its first salvo in a new,
aggressive gameplan designed to push multimedia computers into
In an effort to expand its market for computers that can
process text, sound and images, Tandy introduced Sensation _ its
first multimedia computer designed primarily for home users.
The introduction Wednesday moves Tandy closer to its longld
goal of making a personal computer that can serve as a household
appliance as well as being a numberunching machine.
Sensation, which costs $1,999 without a monitor, can double as
a telephone answering machine and send fax messages. It also has
options available for users to add stereo speakers or transform
the monitor into a television set capable of showing cable TV
"Sensation is not just another PC with multimedia features,"
said Howard Elias, vice president of Tandy Computers. "We see
this as a product that will be a catalyst for a whole new
generation of computer software."
Developing that new computer software, however, is a chickendg
situation for the PC industry, Elias said.
Software companies will develop new multimedia applications
only when a large group of people own multimedia computers. But
shoppers will be hesitant to buy those computers until they see a
large portfolio of software applications available.
To encourage the purchase of Sensation, Fort Worthsed Tandy
borrowed a strategy it used extensively in the late 1980s. It
created a software program designed to make a PC simple for even
a computer novice to use.
In the 1980s, the company equipped many of its Tandy 1000
machines with a program called DeskMate, which provided easy-toe
menus that guided a user through the system.
With Sensation, Tandy bundled its new WinMate software package
_ a system designed to make it easier to use the increasingly
popular Windows operating system developed by MicroSoft Corp. of
WinMate represents Tandy's latest attempt at turning the PC
into a household appliance. The package operates Sensation's
telephone answering system, provides financial planning software
and is equipped with an electronic scheduling calender. It also
offers basic video games, software for printing banners and
nametags, and packages that lets a user link into videotext
services such as Prodigy, America On Line and The Sierra
In effect, WinMate is a lure designed to persuade shoppers to
buy the Sensation. And Sensation, which has a standard 3-inch
floppy drive, also just happens to have a compact disc drive
capable of running multimedia software.
By getting these CD-equipped Sensations into the hands of home
users, Tandy expects to help create a market for CD-based
As more software applications are developed to tap into this
growing market, more shoppers will have reason to buy multimedia
computers, helping Tandy sell more computers in future years.
Tandy Chairman John Roach estimates that 20 percent of the
company's computer sales in the next year will come from
multimedia computers. …