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Re: Mail, Domain Names, NSLUG, and 7.2 and 8.0, and the coming ice age in Hell.

	Date: Wed, 16 Dec 87 18:58 PST
	From: Jerry Bakin <Jerry@MARLOWE.inference.dialnet.symbolics.com>
	Subject: Mail, Domain Names, NSLUG, and 7.2 and 8.0, and the coming ice age in Hell.
	I dunno about this, in the past Symbolics has sold their machines as
	productivity platforms and stressed software engineering on them.  I am
	working on a large system created by about seven people and we also have
	to deal with three different external groups (the customer, a third
	contractor, and internal product development).  Much of my work is
	communications.  And no, I do not want to log onto our overloaded VAX
	with its "ultrasophisticated mailer" when I can use all of those lisp
	cycles that would be going to waste and ZMACs and filters and all of the
	rest to handle mail the way it should be handled.  Hey Zmail works
	pretty damn well, I think you should reconsider your image of it.

Spoken like a true zmail addict :-).  I can see why you like it.  But
which would cause Symbolics to sell more machines, adding new features
to Zmail or doubling their speed?  Before now it was pretty easy to
justify buying Symbolics machines to funders: (a) if your code needs a
200MB address space, or (b) if you needed maximum performance.  Now
(b) isn't true (Explorer-II), and lots of claims about (a).  I'll bet
few people could justify one brand of computer over another because of
mailer quality alone.  So, while individual needs differ, in the
aggregate Symbolics will sell more if they work on performance.

	I certainly hope that Symbolics will provide at least as good as a
	general computing environment as anyone else.  Once you've asked your
	bosses to buy you a Sun or a VAX or a Mac to let you do what you cannot
	do on your Symbolics, they are going to legitimately look at you funny
	when you tell them you can't use the lisp environments on those
I don't see that as "legitimate" at all.  Should Symbolics provide
MacDraw and Lotus 1-2-3?  The fact that a Commadore 64 lets you play
video games you cannot play on a Mac doesn't mean that you can do
anything on a Commadore that you can do on a Mac!

A bad side of the "workstation" idea is that one machine should be
good for everything, and that one machine should be used for
everything.  No one would say that you can have either a telephone or
a typewriter but not both.  Or if they did, there would be a booming
market in telephone/typewriters.  Many people for many purposes can
get buy with a single general-purpose workstation.  But often it is
suboptimal to do so.  Think of computers as assistants.  If my
symbolics machine is cranking away on a qualitative physics problem,
it's busy, I don't want to compete against myself by reading mail or
editing text on it.  A cheap little PC can do those things fine, and leave
my Symbolics alone to do the things only it can do.  Collectively,
more can get done in a shorter time that way.

Buying a computer today is like buying a stereo when transistors were
first being applied to that problem.  Prices are dropping all the
time, and our models typically change more slowly than the technology.
As computers get cheaper, we will treat them like stereos: buying them
won't be such big deal, and if you need one in a location, you'll put
one there.  Or use the moral equivalent of a walkman.