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New Mac Attack

In an effort to compete in the low and mid-range computer market, Apple officially announced three new Macs, the Mac Classic, Mac LC, and Mac IIsi. For those who read the industry press, the announcement had few surprises, but those not up on the details may appreciate a run down of the specifications for these new machines. All of the new Macs should ship with System 6.0.7. According to Apple rep George Cooke, Macs shipped with System 6.0.6 in their boxes should have the system replaced before they are sold due to a few bugs that should be fixed in 6.0.7. All of the new Macs come with just one SuperDrive and the System software comes on 1.44 meg disks.

Mac Classic

CPU: 68000 at 8 MHz
Memory soldered to System Board: 1 MB

Memory Expansion Options: Up to 4 MB by purchasing Mac Classic Memory Card ($149). Card comes with 1 MB on board, and you can add 2 more MB to the card.

Video Options: built-in monochrome 9" screen

Interesting Notes: Runs about 10% faster than the SE; unlike the SE and the SE/30, it doesn't have a universal power supply; only 1 ADB port; no expansion slots - George Cooke pointed out that according to Apple statistics, only 5 percent of all SE owners used the SE expansion slot.

Configurations and List Prices: (Both configurations include Apple's new ADB keyboard.)

  1. No hard disk and 1 MB RAM - $999

  2. 40 MB hard disk and 2 MB RAM (includes the Classic Memory Card) - $1499

Availability: Now

Mac LC

CPU: 68020 at 16 MHz
Memory soldered to System Board: 2 MB

Memory Expansion Options: Up to 4 MB using 1 MB SIMMs; up to 8 MB using 4 MB SIMMs

Video Options: Built-in video supports all Apple monitors except the Portrait and 2-page monitors.

Interesting Notes: The only expansion slot is a new 020 direct slot (just in case Mac developers were bored with the previous collection of slots); comes with a microphone and software to bring sounds into the Mac; only 1 ADB port; Apple will make an Apple IIe emulation card available for the 020 slot.

Standard Configuration: (Includes Apple's new ADB keyboard)

  1. 40 MB hard disk and 2 MB RAM - We don't have the price :-(

Availability: This is unclear, and it appears that dealers will have this machine before academic-type places.

Mac IIsi

CPU: 68030 at 20 MHz - does not include a math coprocessor. In comparison, the SE/30, IIcx, and IIx run at 16 MHz, the IIci runs at 25 MHz, and the IIfx runs at 40 MHz, and all of them all come standard with a math coprocessor. You can add a math coprocessor for a mere (list) $249.

Memory soldered to System Board: 1 MB

Memory Expansion Options: Expands to 5 MB using 1 MB SIMMS; expands to 17 MB using 4 MB SIMMs.

Video Options: Built-in video supports all Apple Mac monitors except the 2-page monitor. You can add a NuBus card or an '030 direct card (but not both).

Interesting Notes: To add an expansion card, you will first need to buy a IIsi adapter card. Yes, Apple is becoming recursive - you must add an adapter card to the motherboard to be able to use either a NuBus or 030 direct card. The adapter card includes the math coprocessor, which cannot be purchased separately, and you can only have one IIsi adapter card, so prepare to decide whether you want 030 or NuBus when you buy the card. In an unprecedented move toward compatibility, Apple made the IIsi 030 slot compatible with the SE/30 030 slot, though a card will work in the IIsi only if it physically fits. The IIsi is small and quite light at 10 pounds, particularly in comparison to the Portable's 17 pounds. With the IIsi, the idea of having one Mac with several monitors in different locations starts to make sense. Finally, the IIsi comes with a microphone and software to bring sounds into the Mac.

Configurations and Prices: (All options do not include keyboard or monitor or IIsi adapter card)

  1. 40 MB hard disk, 2 MB RAM - $3769

  2. 80 MB hard disk, 5 MB RAM - $4569

Availability: Now

Apple also introduced a new 12" color monitor which lists for $599. Apple's 13" color monitor remains in the Mac monitor line-up, with its usual list price of $999. The Plus is discontinued, and the fates of the SE, IIcx, and IIx remain unclear. They are not pictured on Apple's new promotional posters and are likely to dwindle away in the coming months.

These Macs were no great secret to those who believed the trade magazines. I'm pleased with them, though my dream was for an '030 machine that listed around $1000. The Classic's added speed makes it a useful entry level machine. Those who can't afford it should be able to find good deals on used Pluses and SEs. The Mac LC and IIsi don't change things as much, except that they make it cheaper to add a large color monitor, and people who previously could not afford this option will now be able to enjoy it. (Not everyone is a mail order fiend with access to the latest from MacConnection MacWarehouse, to name a few, and even the most careful of shoppers had to scrape pennies to add a big monitor to their setups.)

Information from:
Tonya Byard -- TidBITS Editor
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor
George Cooke -- Apple rep
Apple propaganda sheets

Shades of Hope & Glory

by Ian Feldman,

Sometimes priceless news can be found in places where you least expect them. BusinessWeek, Oct 15, has these interesting nuggets (all literal quotes from that issue):

BusinessWeek half-admits that a policy of "licensing portions of Apple's proprietary OS to outside manufacturers, to broaden the Mac market" is being considered. Apple's plans for replacement of the Macintosh in the future include a Motorola RISC model code-named 'Jaguar' (hmm... speed), still at least 2 years off, that will offer extensive video capabilities and links to VCRs and TVs; possibly also the ability to accept handwritten input. Apple's next laptop, due in 1991, may well be produced by Sony and/or Toshiba, a heresy previously unheard of at Apple.

The Macintosh models of recent years are now called over-engineered, with the choice epithet of "overpriced, overweight disaster" reserved for the Mac Portable that we've all grown to love and hate. We certainly already knew it was overpriced. Now Apple has discovered that as well. Jean-Louis Gassee is out. So are the not-invented-here syndrome, the prima donnas, the "creeping elegance [of overdesigning]," the internal politics, and there's no more room for "people slowing each other down." So who's in?

Mike Spindler, the new COO, nicknamed "the Diesel," that's who, said to be "an antithesis of New Age, touchy-feely Silicon Valley managers," former head of the highly-profitable Apple's European operations. And what, pray, are his recipes for survival?

Tighter budgets and firm deadlines to start with. Also teamwork, reversing decisions to spin-off Claris, patching up feuds with Adobe, undoing past mistakes, and preparing the company for the times ahead. Company perks, with the excellent workout facilities singled out, are in part said to have contributed to its higher than competition expenses (Apple aerobics-freaknics take note).

With Apple's market share dropping below 10% mark, Windows 3.0 looming large on the horizon and System 7.0 not yet in sight to offset the lost market advantage, the company has entered on the road toward financial recovery through lower-priced models and a more "substantive-marketing" approach (whatever that means) to engineering and sales. On the home front that stands for phasing out its own major-corporate-account sales force and turning the sales to local dealers.

Thinking ahead, Apple has started dispatching teams of employees on "camping trips" to universities, to suck out the hearts and minds of the best and brightest of tomorrow. CEO John Sculley now devotes fully 70% of his time to oversee the research and development effort of the Advanced Technology Group, "making sense of the various projects launched under Jean-Louis Gassee." His aim is to shorten new product development time from 18-24 months down to 9-12 months from conception to launching. He seems to have succeeded at that; the Macintosh LC has had its color graphics re-engineered a month before its scheduled debut on Oct. 15th "to meet demands of educational buyers" (addition of 'Government Green' to the default palette? Fall Fashion Colors? blacker blacks?... your guess is as good as mine).

Still, having for several years produced computers for the rest of Corporate America the company may ultimately have difficulties switching over to make one for the rest of us. That doesn't concern the Mac Classic and LC, which seem affordable enough (although three years too late) but the future Look-Ma-No-Mice and related products. Perhaps we all should sleep soundly at night now that Apple is tended by an executive "with a turbo for a mind"; someone said to be capable of synchronous-speed activities "by mind, mouth and hands" when in front of a white board. But... hey! wasn't there another high- sprung executive there recently, in front of the very same board, making substantive plans for Saving Our Souls From IBM-doom, one Jean-Louis Something or Other?

Information from:
Ian Feldman --

Related articles:
BusinessWeek, International Edition -- October 15, 1990, pg. 40-46
InfoWorld -- 08-Oct-90, Vol. 12, #41, pg. 5
MacWEEK -- 09-Oct-90, Vol. 4, #34, pg. 1

Luxury Tax

Those of us who engage in sinful activities have become used to paying for them in the form of high taxes. Sin taxes, more commonly known as luxury taxes, bring in revenue from the sale of alcohol, cigarettes, and gasoline. But computers? Since when are computers sinful, except perhaps when their primary use is to run MacPlaymate?

According to a plan to reduce the US federal deficit, a luxury tax would be applied to a number of currently untaxed items, such as cars, jewelry, and electronics. That's not the problem. The problem is the price ranges that the government considers luxurious. Cars over $30,000, furs over $500, jewelry over $5000, and electronics over $1000 are all considered luxury items and would be taxed at a rate of 10% on the amount over the threshold. For a $5000 computer (a nice IIci system, for instance), there would be an additional $400 in tax on the $4000 over the $1000 threshold. The fallacy in the plan is obvious to anyone familiar with the industry. A $30,000 car is a pretty nice car - you could probably suffer with a $25,000 car and not really notice much difference. Jewelry and furs are not necessary for much of anything short of vanity (as powerful a force as that may be). But if computers are considered a consumer electronic purchase, as they are currently under the proposed plan, people would be taxed on the machines that they work with and are - to use a popular and irritatingly overused term - empowered by. Machines that increase productivity are in our opinion, not luxuries by definition. We would not complain about the expensive camcorder or VCR or stereo for most people, though, because they aren't necessary in any way, shape, or form unless you happen to be a video or audio professional.

The subject has received a great deal of discussion on the nets, not surprisingly, and the general consensus is that taxing computers as luxury items is a mistake that would severely hurt the low end of the industry - people like students who really can't afford an extra 10% but will do useful work with that machine. Even the new Mac Classic is barely under $1000 in its stripped-down form, and only 8086 PC-clones consistently come in at under $1000. This is not to say that the wealthier customers wouldn't be hurt by the price hike as well, and the entire industry very well might decline further from its already shaky position on Wall Street.

While a few people have expressed the opinion that something must be done about the US federal deficit (which should start being expressed in scientific notation for clarity's sake) and several others have pointed out that the problem faces only Americans, we still feel that it is important to express our feeling on the idiocy of the proposition. Computers must not be restricted to the wealthy any more than they already are, and by keeping prices lower in the US, perhaps the rest of the world will also see lower prices.

Please note that we are not absolutely up to date on the latest budget negotiations, so this tax may be fittingly slashed before it even has a chance to affect us. However, unless you know that the tax on computers is no longer, we suggest that you make your feelings known to the people who make the decision, since they obviously do not understand the issues involved. You can...

Capitol Hill Senate: 202/224-3121
Capitol Hill House: 202/225-3121
White House: 202/456-1414

Information from:
Morgan Davis --
William C. DenBesten -- denbeste@bgsuvax.UUCP
Matthew T. Russotto --
Cushing Courtney Whitney --
Brendan Mahony --
Michael Rys -- mrys@ethz.UUCP
Dave Seaman --
Christopher M. Mauritz --
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor

Notes & Comments/08-Oct-90

We're trying a slightly different format for displaying text in this week's TidBITS. It is designed for online consumption, whereas we've normally stuck with designs meant for paper consumption. Since we currently don't make it easy to print TidBITS at all (that's the point!), such a paper-oriented design doesn't make sense. Please let us know if you like or dislike this new format in comparison to the old one. The basic difference is that paragraphs are no longer indented but are separated by a blank line, which we hope makes it more readable on screen.

Apple has announced that the ImageWriter LQ Rework Program will expire on October 31st, 1990. They say "we have seen a decline in the demand for reworked LQ printers." Of course, that may be because those poor people who purchased the ImageWriter LQs have completely given up on them by now, but as a more charitable friend noted, the LQ would have been a good impact printer if it had been quieter, faster, and less trouble-prone. In any event, if you have an ImageWriter LQ and wish to have it reworked (I'm not too sure what that entails since I've never met anyone who owned an LQ), you had better make an appointment with your friendly local Apple dealer.

We've heard that several groups of US semiconductor and computer manufacturers are recommending that the US drop price controls on imported Japanese DRAMs (dynamic RAM chips - the ones that normally populate SIMMs - gotta love those acronyms :-)). In 1986, the US government imposed a minimum price on the imported chips to prevent them from bankrupting American chip makers. The computer manufacturers weren't happy then but have apparently managed to convince the chip makers that higher prices on memory chips means fewer computers sold with installed memory and fewer memory upgrades. Even now, the list price for a true Apple 2 megabyte memory is $499, and third party prices are hovering around $120 for a 2 meg upgrade. The recommendation, if implemented, probably wouldn't affect the smaller 256 kilobyte and 1 meg SIMMS, but would significantly reduce the price on the newer 4 meg SIMMS. Manufacturers would also be more likely to increase the standard amount of memory sold with computers, much as Apple has done with the Mac LC giving it a standard memory configuration of 2 meg.

Information from:
Adam C. Engst -- TidBITS Editor
Mark Anbinder -- mha@memory.UUCP

Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 08-Oct-90, Vol. 12, #41, pg. 1



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