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press releases -- comments

First, it think it is excellent that information from the Symbolics'
press release is being made available via e-mail. Second, it creates the
unprecedented potential for dialogue on the state and future of the
company, and for feedback to Symbolics.

Increasingly I am struck by the enormous change that has taken place
over the last 12 months within the company. Surely we all agree that
vast changes to the advantage of users have occured. At the same time
the "corporate culture" is now being wrought. As a user I have reactions
to what I see, to support what is (for me) consistent, as well as to
question what I do not understand. I offer the comments below in the
spirit of an open dialogue, and with the context that 1users are one
continuity between the former and future Symbolics.

0I wonder if other users have any comments on this press release. I offer
mine below, as a user and consultant who is devoted to, and reliant on,
Symbolics, Inc., and Symbolics systems. In this way I offer to begin a
constructive dialogue, partly as a run-up to SLUG-89, where issues can
be discussed one-to-one.

				    MacIvory model 2 Availability and Pricing

    Scheduled to be available for delivery in volume in 90 days, the MacIvory model 2 upgrade package for Macintosh II/IIx systems,
    priced at $15,900 (U.S.), includes the MacIvory model 2 processor, 8 megabytes (Mb) of NuBus memory, the General delivery
    software and a keyboard overlay.  Pricing for a
    similiarly-configured MacIvory model 1 begins at less than $11,000

We were told by our salesrep, in a local meeting of SLUG here in DC
yesterday, that the "model 2" (lower case as shown) is faster because it
is the first Mac to contain the newer Ivory chip (Rev 2B) 2and0 because it
contains faster cache (on-board with the Ivory, which I believe is the
same as SIMM) memory. This new memory is 40 ns vs 70 ns for the older,
"model 1" memory, which allows the Rev 2B Ivory to take advantage of 2its
0faster, 135ns vs 240 ns, speed. I believe I have this right but would
gratefully accept a correction from Symbolics.

We were also told that MacIvorys already in the field would ultimately
be upgraded in the field by customer service to Rev 2B, because some
minor problems (e.g., logic variables) are fixed in the new chip. More
than one user at the meeting then pointed out that if, in effect, the
difference between model 1 and model2 is essentially that of cache
memory costing around $5000, it would be difficult to justify that to
management, esp. the military. These users asked that this difficulty be
fed back to Symbolics marketing, and when put this way, the general
feeling was that the "model 2" seemed quite high in price. This was
disappointing, as one user put it, because just as Symbolics' compatible
platforms were falling in price, here the price was going up again.

The following questions I feel are therefore germane are to our

Is the above information correct? 

Are there other reasons to consider the upgrade is not just for faster

Is the cost differential justified technically?

Do users feel the cost is justified, and/or justifiable?

				    MacIvory model 2 Supports a Rich, Comprehensive Software Environment

    .Standard Environments

    To enable the Company to provide its advanced object-oriented software to the largest possible market, Symbolics stated that it
    would pursue two major directions.  First, underscored by today's MacIvory and XL400 product announcements, the Company will
    continue to enhance and broaden its support for standard hardware environments.  Second, Symbolics will work aggressively with
    other leading vendors, including LISP vendors, to provide portability of the Company's software to standard run-time 
    environments, including MS-DOS and Unix.  As part of this plan, Symbolics said it will support the Common Lisp Object System
    (CLOS) standard, which the Company helped to architect, and spearhead the specification and development of a multi-vendor user
    interface management system standard.

There have been questions from the user community about CLOS; is there a
comprehensive statement that is more technical, about the future of CLOS
and Symbolics, especially Symbolics layered products?

(I note parenthetically what seems to me like a shift of tone in the
release, away from "we are AI AI AI..." to "software development,
languages, standards" --- something long overdue.)  

    The Company also stressed the industry's growing need for expertise in designing, implementing and integrating advanced 
    technology with mainstream corporate systems.  Symbolics stated that it will aggressively expand its consulting organization to
    provide this unique expertise....

Gone is the emphasis on the consulting organization of Symbolics' as
"jump start" for users. This new thrust seems to be quite different than
what has been stated quite recently in Symbolics' executive

It seems that Symbolics is now competing explicitly with consulting
organizations, whose bread-and-butter is software development contracts.
In the past, we have been told by Symbolics that their resources are
limited and therefore we must be patient with their slower support of
older machines' software, for example. Is there any reason to question
where the resources come from, while our our patience is being tested in
waiting for bug fixes, ECO tapes, new releases, and good, old-fashioned
software support?

After years of questions as to whether Symbolics can continue to develop
and support the complex array of software they deliver, does Symbolics
now have the resources to both do that much better (as is needed, as
users often state) 2and0 provide the highest level of consulting services
(so as to not contribute to bad press about the capabilities of
symbolics processing)?

What is the future of ECOs, future releases, support of older machines?

In the new corporate culture of Symbolics, what is the future of older,
long-time-dedicated users?