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Sound Complaint

    Date: Mon, 9 Sep 91 10:50:37 +0900
    From: kddlab!atr-la.atr.co.jp!myers@uunet.uu.net (John K. Myers)
    I'd like to register a strong complaint against the new
    XL1200 series's lack of sound capabilities.  The old
    3600 series was hard enough to work with, but all the
    new XL1200 can do is beep at one frequency.  Compare this
    to the MacIntosh LC machine, which comes with a built-in
    microphone besides software to support its speaker.

Hear, hear!

By odd coincidence, I was just bitching about this to
Neal Feinberg a few minutes ago, when he was by for a demo
of my office.  I pointed out that of all the machines on my
desk, my *3600* was by far the weakest in terms of audio, and
that the single-frequency XL series is a real problem in using
CYC since different beeps all come out the same.

Modern user-interface technology demands better, even if you
don't get into such issues as sound in mail.

To be fair, a stock Decstation 5000 isn't much better, and the
audio board I'm using isn't a product yet.  But it clearly
illustrates the utility: it answers my phone, announces incoming
mail headers (From: and Subject: lines), and calls up Chris Stacy
on the phone to read him stories.

    Date: Mon, 09 Sep 91 10:44:20 EDT
    From: moon@cambridge.apple.com (David A. Moon)
    For your information, as I recall the basis for the decision not to
    include sound output as a built-in feature on the XL series was that
    the majority of customers did not use it and shouldn't have to pay
    for it (it would have increased the cost of the machine enough that
    the cost would have been reflected in the price).  

People *DID* use the old 3600 sound; they just didn't use it to
the full extent of its capabilities.  In part, this is because
it was hard to use, and in part, it was lack of software, and in
part, that many applications don't really need much.  But regressing
back to a single beep went too far.

>From a minimal user-interface point of view, what's needed is the
ability to produce a *VARIETY* of easily-distinguished sounds.
This doesn't require full CD-stereo capability, and in my opinion,
this should be regarded as something that *EVERY* computer should
come with.

						       It was also believed
    that the customers who wanted it and would pay for it could easily
    buy a VMEbus board to supply the feature, and that in fact such
    third-party boards would be more likely to suit their requirements
    than anything that Symbolics tried to build in.  By the way, this
    decision was made 3 or 4 years ago.

Assuming they called it right on the availability of VME boards,
this part of it is sensible, although including a third-party board
in the product line might be reasonable.