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A Cork Computer

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A Texas company called Cork Computer Corp. claims to have designed a computer requiring only the 128K ROMs from a Mac 512KE, Plus, or SE to give it a IIci's performance. The Cork System 30 has everything that IIci does, including onboard video driving most monitors on the market, a 25MHz 68030, 68882 coprocessor, three NuBus slots, and a SuperDrive. Cork says that its added a Motorola 56001 DSP chip, which provides CD-quality audio in and out as well as 9600 baud fax and modem capabilities (it may be v.everything [that's our term for modems that have v.22, v.22 bis, v.32, v.42, v.42 bis, MNP 1-5, and other abbreviations and codes after their names]). Cork claims the System 30 is completely compatible with current Mac software, because otherwise no one would buy it, which is extremely astute.

The trick to all of this is the ROMs. The 128K ROMs are pretty capable, but they lack Color QuickDraw, which didn't surface until the Mac II's 256K ROMs. Luckily for Cork, much of the 256K ROM code can be obtained from patches and INITs. Potential buyers will wish to keep in mind that the ROMs are optimized for the processor in the original machine - so a Cork System 30 might not be as fast as a true IIci. Still, at about $2300 for a base system, it's not a bad deal if it runs all or most Macintosh software.

You've never heard of Cork Computer Corp.? Not too surprising, but you may have heard of another firm, Texas MacStuf (formerly Texas MacExpress), a mail order firm formed to fund the years of work needed to develop the Cork System 30.

Apple Legal has apparently been informed of Cork's work on the System 30 and currently has no problems with it. Cork is cautious of the litigious nature of the industry though, and has retained the services of an international law firm with an excellent Intellectual Properties department. Everything Cork has done has been passed by the lawyers first, which accounts for Cork's confidence that its machine is legit. From talking to Cork, I gathered that it is designing and marketing its machine not to challenge Apple's dominance, but to broaden the Mac market. It knows that there are millions of Macs out there with the 128K ROMs, and if the Cork System 30 can turn those machines into powerful machines once again, it will be a victory for the abstract Macintosh as well as for Cork. Who loses? No one particularly, though a powerful Macintosh clone might steal some sales from the PC-clone makers.

Cork Computer Corp. -- 512/343-1301
9430 Research Blvd., Bldg. 2 Suite 250
Austin, TX 78759

Information from:
Doug Davenport -- djd@tidbits.tcnet.ithaca.ny.us
Cork Computer Corp. representative

Related articles:
PC WEEK -- 26-Nov-90, Vol. 7, #47, pg. 27
InfoWorld -- 12-Nov-90, Vol. 12, #46, pg. 8

 

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