Harvard, IBM Offering Cheap New Computers

In the University's third cut-rate compiler deal in less than a year, Harvard and the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) have linked up to provide top-of-the-line computer's to students and staff at up to 35 percent off standard retail value.

Three IBM computers--the PC, the PC/XT, and the PC Portable--are now available from the Equipment Management Store on a first-come-first-served basis, officials said.

Earlier this year, Harvard struck deals with the Apple Computer Company and the Digital Electronics Corporation (DEC), under which the companies provide students with some of their best-selling models at similar reductions.

While delays of up to six weeks are expected for the popular PC model, the two other IBM machines are already in stock and ready for immediate delivery, according to Constance F. Towler, manager of information services in the Office for Information Technology.

Approximately 75 people have already joined a waiting list to purchase the PC, she added, and an additional surge in orders is expected within the next few weeks as students return to Cambridge.

The IBM PC, without a printer, is available through the University for approximately $1995, and the PC Portable sells for approximately $2114. The PC/XT goes for $2905.

Options

Despite a high volume of sales of both the Apple and DEC computers in the past few months, Harvard accepted the IBM deal to give customers more options and because "IBM offered a better discount than ever before," Towler said.

The PC is similar in functions and capabilities to the DEC Rainbow, which is also offered to students and staff through the University at reduced prices, said than T. Sonnies, equipment store administrators in the Office for information Technology.

Equipped with two standard disk drives and a 256-K memory, the PC is especially suited for users who do a lot of writing, Sonnie said.

The PC/XT, which boasts a hard disk drive, is similar to but faster than the PC and better suited to data gathering and number computations. The PC/XT is geared more towards science and engineering applications and is also a popular choice for administrators, Sonnie said.

The 30-pound PC Portable is similar in function and capability to the PC, but is a one-piece unit that folds into an oversized brief case.

Compatability

In an effort to update its facilities, Harvard is currently examining various models for large-scale computerization, which may include a "network" that would allow computers throughout the campus to communicate with each other.

If the University does establish such a network, it is likely that the IBM machines as well as the DEC and Apple computers would be compatible with the system, Sonnie said.

"You're never 100 percent sure, but by going with IBM, DEC and Apple, you can expect to be pretty safe," he added.

The previous deals have made available the Apple Macintosh (starting at $1827), the DEC Rainbow (Starting at $1827), the DEC Professional 350 (starting at $3050) and the DEC mate II World Processor (approximately $1800).

Local computer store managers say the IBM PC, the Macintosh and the DEC Rainbow are the most "student-oriented" machines on the market. The lowest priced of the three, the Macintosh has the most sophisticated graphics, but its lack of memory and available software are major drawbacks. It also contains only one disk drive.

The Rainbow and IBM PC are similar, but the PCs sell better primarily because they carry the more popular IBM name, salesmen say.

Some retailers, however, said the machines are difficult to compare. "It's like comparing Cadillacs to Hondas," sails one, but she added that "if more software isn't developed for the Macintosh, the are going to ba a lot of very unhappy users."