3.593 hardware use outside N. America, cont. (135)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Mon, 16 Oct 89 18:09:32 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 593. Monday, 16 Oct 1989.

(1) Date: Mon, 16 Oct 89 05:06:45 EDT (20 lines)

(2) Date: Mon, 16 Oct 89 11:11 O (57 lines)
Subject: Hardware query response...

(3) Date: Mon, 16 Oct 89 14:35:07 BST (37 lines)
From: Donald Spaeth 041 339 8855 x6336 <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 3.560/Current hardware

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 89 05:06:45 EDT

A few comments on current use of micros at UEA.
IBM clones are still the most cost effective micros at UEA. They are
still primarily used for word processing connected to a cheap matrix
printer. Macs are expensive and with a laser printer even more
expensive. Their screens are minute but the wp software is liked.
Mac users are vociferous but IBM type users quietly get on with
their work and save their money.
We in the Computing Centre would positively like Humanists to spread
their wings and try other things. However the majority are probably
correct in their assessment of the situation. Humanists have better
things to do with their time than play with such devices except in
very restricted circumstances.

Happy autumn,
John Roper
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------63----
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 89 11:11 O
Subject: Hardware query response...

In response to Willard's query about current hardware outside North America
the following may be useful, though it is not limited to the Humanities.

I administer a worldwide database of educational exchange advisors and
administrators which began a year ago and currently includes some 800
individuals from 122 countries. All of these are outside the U.S., only
Canada and Mexico are included as "North America." Some are full-time
administrators or advisors, others are teaching staff who work with student
or staff exchange on a part-time basis. There is a questionnaire which all
have been invited to complete, including questions on whether they use a
microcomputer (as distinct from mini- or mainframe computer), and if so
what type, its memory, disk storage capacity, and also the three main
software packages. Detail in the answers has varied widely.

So far, I have received completed forms from 283 individuals. They
represent five affiliations: University-based, USIS-subsidized advisors
abroad, host-government sponsored advisors, Fulbright Commission advisors,
and private-organization (I.I.E., etc.) advisors [the emphasis is on
exchanges to and from the U.S.]. Of these, 37.1% responded that they did
not use a microcomputer. 51.3% used IBM-compatible systems, 9.5% used
Macintosh systems, and 0.7% reported using both IBM and Mac systems, Apple
II systems, or Wang systems without IBM compatibility.

When only "university" affiliates are isolated, IBM represents 48.6% of the
users, 34.9% indicate NO microcomputer, 12.3% use Macs, and very small
percentages use Apple II, Atari, BBC micros, or CPM equipment.

When the "no micro" respondants were eliminated, the proportions of
computer systems were 70.3% IBM, 25.7% Mac, 2% both, and 2% Wang or other.
University respondants were from 27 countries. 80% were based in Europe,
10% in Asia, 5% in North America, 3% in Australia or New Zealand, and 1%
each in Africa and South America. Detail on the type of system, especially
for IBM compatibles, is inexact, but judging from model numbers or software
applications mentioned, I would say at least half are 80286 systems, and
well over 2/3 of all systems have hard drives of 20MB or more.

The proportion of IBM dominance over Macintosh systems in the database so
far is consistent within all continents except North America, though there
are so few respondants from Canada and Mexico as to make this statistically

Further, this dominance was also apparent in a report by the University of
Oulu in the latest Finnish national computing center journal which noted a
90%-10% breakdown on their campus in favor of IBM (mainly AST, ACER, and
UNISYS) over Mac systems. For over a year none of the universities in
Finland have purchased, or recommended their staff buying, less than a
80286 processor, so one might assume a majority of 80286 or higher
processors on the IBM compatibles now in use.

John D. Hopkins
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------50----
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 89 14:35:07 BST
From: Donald Spaeth 041 339 8855 x6336 <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 3.560/Current hardware

The most commonly owned computer in U.K. humanities academe is without
doubt the Amstrad PCW8256 (and its bigger brother the PCW8512),
which uses the CP/M operating system and is based in technology
which predates DOS and the IBM PC. The Amstrad is one of the
successes of marketing in the 1980s, providing an acceptable
word-processing package closely matched to a dot-matrix printer
at an original price of 400-500 pounds! Not surprisingly, this
machine swept across academe when it arrived about 4 years ago.
For humanists one advantage is that it enables use of a wide
range of diacritics and non-Roman alphabets, because it prints
in graphic mode from the LocoScript word-processor. A range
of other inexpensive desktop publishing, communications,
spreadsheet and database software has become available.

Second to the Amstrad the good ol' 8086/88 (IBM XT) is the
most commonly owned machine. Only now, as 286 prices come
down, are a few humanists beginning to buy a 286 for home use.

Many of my more-computerate colleagues have decried the rapid
spread of Amstrads, since they're not IBM-compatible and
not very powerful. Many (most?) computer centres refuse to
support them, although they may put a few in public areas.
But anything that revolutionises humanities computing to
that extent (I would guess up to 25% of lecturers might own
one) has much to be said for it. Of course, their owners
usually don't realise that they're using a computer. They
call it a word-processor and tend to feel inferior, which
is a shame.

Don Spaeth
CTI Centre for History
University of Glasgow
email: d.a.spaeth @ glasgow.ac.uk (Janet)