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Sound Complaint

    Date: Mon, 9 Sep 1991 22:17 EDT
    From: rwk@Crl.dec.com (Robert W. Kerns)

	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.

As with all such suggestions, we're very interested in extensions to our
product line that would provide a good return on our investment.  We've
made such extensions in the past when a. a customer was willing to fund
the extension, or b. it was clear to us based on customer inputs
that we could generate enough additional business to justify the
development costs. Any other approach would be bad business, and would
be unfair to our employees, our other customers, and our stockholders.

Since this particular case would involve a VME board, it might be a
perfect opportunity for a potential entrepeneur who could sell this
capability as a third-party layered product. If anyone is interested,
Symbolics would like the opportunity to help you market it to our
installed base.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who would like to discuss any
of these issues with me privately.