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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Vintage 286 Computer Justification

part 2
PCs and Workstations
Computerworld July 23 , 1990

286 Justifications

Applications such as word processors and simple spreadsheets are justifying 286 purchases in many companies that prefer to buy 386 CPUs.

"For those kind of uses , its a perfectly adequate machine," said Agnes Bacon , PC coordinator at the Clevland Clinic.

Zenith Data Systems has not totally written off the market. Two weeks ago , it unveiled a 286 Desktop PC that can be upgraded to a 386SX.

Zenith cited research that says 7 million 286 boxes will be sold worldwide this year.

"Anything that has that much volume is certainly still a viable market ," said product manager "Rusty Graham. "I see the 286 being the highest selling computer for the next couple of years before the 386SX surpasses it ."

In addition at least 4.5 million 286's are expected to sell yearly through 1995 Graham said .

"It will have a viable life." he added .

Dell Computer Chief Executive Officer Micheal Dell said the 286 could be a hot seller at the right price. "If we get the 286 machine under $ 1,000 , it becomes a throw -away item . Like a telephone they will buy it for everyone

Yet many manufacturers are not putting their desktop development dollars where their mouths are . A Zenith spokesperson said the new machine will likely be the last 286 developed for the desktop. NEC Technologies Inc. is concentrating development efforts on the 386 and SX areas , not the 286, according to David Middleton , manager of the PC product marketing.

The 286 " is a cash cow and vendors want to milk it , for what they can while it is still around." Ness said , referring to the lack of new development.

Street prices for the 286 desktop PCs will continue to drop, analysts said , making the boxes even more attractive in the near term. But observers anticipated that the eventual rise of 32-bit applications will deal a final blow to the 286.

"The motivating factor is new software that uses the 386 memory-handling capabilities " such as Microsoft Corp's Windows 3.0 said Phil Mooneyham , microcomputer technician at Emerson Electric Company CO. Industrial Division in Santa Anna Calif. The company stopped buying 286s three months ago he said.

The portable computer arena will serve as a rest home for the chip, for at least a couple of years after it retires from the desktop , observers said . "The portable market tends to lag behind the desktop market , so for most applications the 286 is sufficient ," a Zenith spokesperson said.

Notebook-size PCs may be the final refuge for the 286 , because of the extremly small form factor and price pressure preclude the use of more advanced processor-based technology for the near future , observers said.

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