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MailBITS/09-Sep-91

My mail link still isn’t completely solid, and it’s certainly not as quick as I was used to when I connected to the Internet via Cornell, but at least most mail is getting through now. I have two accounts that should forward correctly, and mail that goes to my old address will be forwarded as well. So please, send me information for TidBITS along with the usual gamut of comments and suggestions. If you have trouble getting mail through to me, you can still send it to Mark, who will forward it.

[email protected]
sumax!polari!tidbits!ace
[email protected]

This account is my Mac running uAccess from ICE Engineering (an excellent implementation of UUCP) and connecting to polari, a Seattle-based public access Unix machine. Some time in the future, I hope to have another mail feed that will give me a domain name, thus making mail easier, faster, and more reliable. In particular, [email protected] won’t work well for a month or so yet because of the time lag in updating the UUCP maps around the world.

[email protected]
[email protected]
sumax!polari!penguin
penguin%[email protected]

This account is my interactive account on polari. It is currently forwarding all mail to tidbits, and is often easier to reach from the Internet.

[email protected]
[email protected]

This is an old account at Cornell that merely forwards mail to polari and then on to tidbits. It is easily reached from anywhere on the Internet and equally as easily from Bitnet. However, it exists on the whim of Cornell, so should not be relied upon.

And, for those of you who read TidBITS but can’t connect to any of the networks I’m on, here’s my snail mail address.

Adam C. Engst
TidBITS
9301 Avondale Rd. NE Q1096
Redmond, WA 98052

If you’re thinking of buying a high-end Mac and you’re not planning to wait around for the ‘040 Quadra Macs to arrive in late October, you’ll be glad to hear that one of your options just became more attractive. Apple has quietly announced that the Macintosh IIci will now ship with a cache card installed. Depending on what kind of work you’ll be doing with your IIci, a cache card can vastly improve its computing performance, by using very fast memory to cache information that would otherwise have to be read from "slow" 80ns memory. This is similar in concept to using a disk cache, using RAM to cache slow disk information. In fact, the cache card makes the IIci compete very favorably against the IIfx on price/performance terms. No doubt third-party cache card manufacturers, such as Atto and DayStar, will be irritated by Apple yanking most of their market away (they can still sell to existing IIci owners, of course), but this move clearly reaffirms Apple’s commitment to the IIci as a high-end member of the Macintosh family.

Murph Sewall writes, "The start of a new term is as good an excuse as any to discard the flotsam and jetsam of past academic years to clear some shelf space for paperwork anew. I seem to have gotten more carried away than usual this Fall, or simply concentrated on one particularly disreputable shelf. Anyway, I came across a 1977 "Microcomputer Handbook." The cost justification may be of some interest, particularly for those who plead poverty with respect to the cost of present day systems.

The main (8080 CPU) was only $931, but it was missing a few little conveniences such as memory (24K that’s 24,576 bytes, folks only $1,674 – roughly the price of 41 MB at 1991 prices), a keyboard and (monochrome) monitor (only $900 for both, a bargain), I/O board and cables ($400), and (90K) floppy disk drive ($1,150). Throw in an 80 column dot matrix printer ($1,253) and an operating system ($150) and the total is $6,458 before buying the first application (of course, in those days you pretty much had to "roll your own").

But wait, those are LIST prices! So with academic discounts the price for the whole packages diminishes to ahem ONLY $4,430 (what a steal).

Also, consider that those are 1977 dollars, before the inflationary runup of the 1980’s. I haven’t checked the consumer price index for 1991 versus 1977, but I’d guess the inflation factor is about 1.8 ($4,430 in 1977 = something like $7,975 today). For nearly $8,000 you can you can buy something like a top-of-the-line 1991 workstation, but you can also buy a pretty satisfactory computer for much less than even 1977’s $4,430.

Since I’m among that group who remembers when 8080 CPU’s and the CP/M operating system seemed pretty amazing, the prices for today’s systems with all the bells and whistles don’t seem so outrageous." [Since I was in 5th grade at the time, I won’t pretend to remember the 8080. But thanks, Murph, for putting today’s price complaints into perspective.]

Information from:
Mark H. Anbinder — [email protected]
Murph Sewall — [email protected]

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