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March 31, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-31

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0

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, March 31, 1982.

The Michigan Daily

40

Computers make themselves at home

i

By Richard Campbell
Personal computers. We've been promised
such technical marvels ever since Dick Tracy
put on his two-way wrist radio. Everyone from
science writers to comic book cartoonists have
predicted that computers will someday find
their way into the home.
As some large corporationms would have you
believe, that someday is today. Radio Shack,
IBM, and Texas Instruments are now adver-
tising their own versions of the mass-produced
personal computer. But the story really began
about a decade ago.
IN 1971, Electronic News heralded the inven-
tion of the MCS-4 system. Consisting of little
more than a few integrated circuits which
would fit in the palm. of your hand, it was,
nevertheless, a breakthrough in the design of
the personal computer. Compared to today's
computers it did absolutely nothing, yet for its
time, it was the state of the art.
Today's systems are a good deal more com-
plex, but at the same time cheaper, more
reliable, and easier to use. They are also
becoming increasingly'prolific. I typed this
article (as-well as my term papers and movie
reviews) on a- personal computer in my dorm
room, using a text editing program that allows
extremely convenient manipulatip of
anything that I type into it. Down the hall, a
friend is playing Space Invaders, r Pac-man,
or Defender on his personal computer. One
floor above me, a classmate is hooked up, via
telephone lines, into the Michigan Terminal
System, which allows him to complete almost
all of his homework in computer classes

without the drudgery of going
center.

to the computer

In ten years personal computing has changed
from four tiny integrated circuits to a billion-
dollar-a-year industry allowing practically
anyone to own and operate a computer.
THESE ARE THE outside changes, the dif-
ferences that are obvious and objective. In only
ten years, though, there have been a number of
other-changes-changes in the kind of person
who buys a computer.
* If, you bought a computer in the mid-
seventies, you were probably a hardware
freak. You loved the smell of burning solder,
adored wiring things together, and generally
liked the mechanics of the machine more than
the fact that you could play video games on it.
A hardware hack w.was just about the only
person who could afford the computer hobby
because there were very few repair centers set
up. The owner was about the only one who
could fix their own machine. And because there
were so few standards in the industry, one had
to know how to put a few wires together if you
wanted to connect your computer to anything
else.
I BOUGHT my computer, a Digital Group 2-80
based system, in 1976, knowing absolutely
k about nuts and bolts. It took a friend
who worked in an electronics department to
initially assemble the computer from the bag of
resistors and circuit boards I had bought. Then
it required several trips lugging the suitcase-
sized computer back to-the computer store
before it started working properly. This ar-
duous saga is a fairly typical one for its time.
Today, however, it is commonplace to pick
up your computer at noon, and, by plugging in a

volved in these efforts was relatively small;
most of the researchers knew one another, and
there was often close communication among
them.. . This continued until the early 1950s.
Then, this great :ush of creation and ex-
citement seemed to slow to a crawl. Some of
the researchers went off to work for industry.
Computers came out of the experimental labs,
and became a profitable area of activity for
business and industry.
"Particularly important; it appears that
the easy communication and exchange of ideas
that Was so evident in the '40s was greatly cur-
tailed in the late '50s.
I SEE THE same problem arising out of the'
chaotic, but phenomenal birth of personal
computing. During the 1970's there was theO
most fantastic progress made in getting com-
puters out of the hands of a few businessmen,
and accountants, and into the home. Now wi*-
the industry becoming controlled by those y
same businessmen, the entire personal corn-,
puting field might stagnate in this decade.
The most impressive aspect of personat.
computers is that they are personal. In thye
beginning, it was this side of computers tIat,
was the most.fascinating. Now, a great dealf
the industry is becoming formalized and i
dinary.
There is still much' that is exciting about
home computers. Everyone should go out afid
play with, one as soon as possible. But, ther
will be no going back to those early days when-
computers were fun tinker-toys first, and.,a
business second. Let's hope that some of thp
fun can remain.
Campbell is a Daily Arts editor and a;:
computer science major.

Daily Photo by JEFF SCHRIER
Dorm computing: A trend for today's students.

few cables, play Asteroids fifteen minutes
later. By the way, don't try and look up the
Digital Group. They went out of business a long
time ago-a fairly typical occurrence for com-
puter companies at this time.
As opposed to the early days of personal
computing, where an intimate knowledge of the
insides of the machine was a necessary part of
operating it, today's computer actually makes
it difficult to look at its insides. For most, this is
a good thing, because people who buy personal
computers today are not as interested in how
this machine works, and wouldn't know what to

do with it if it ever stopped working. It is just
another example of how the industry has
changed.
TODAY, EVEN multi-national corporations
are getting into the micro-computing market.
Yet it was just yesterday that computers for
the home seemed to be an idea in which only a
few small groups were involved.
" Jim Warren, editor of the original Dr. Dob-
bs-a magazine devoted strictly to home com-
puterists-wrote of the parallels between the
birth of computers and the growth of the per-
sonal computer. "The research community in-

r

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCII, No. 142

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M# 48109

Weasel
UGGGH !r
LOOjKIT 11" 1A1 if
oNE.. UNDERSTAND
THIS "Mopow4
AR'" sn*F
I~

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

1415 PAR11WLAR- WAY OF
IE46T" WR.

THINK it~1
t-.oOKS&LY
At* 'Slpip.

By Robert Lfence
SAME.
TO YOU,
BU Pvy.

L,

A vote in El Salvador
T HE POLLS are closed in El the Christian Democrats form a suc-
Salvador. The votes are in. Unlike cessful coalition. The Christian
imost elections, however, the results Democrats support land and economic
6re still unclear. No one is sure yet reform. They also are the best hope for
whether the election's, outcome will setting up negotiations between the
herald a new day of peace and rebels and the government-the
democracy or another dark night of crucial step to a permanent peace.
terror. The entire country could then lay down
The people of the country expressed arms and join a rational, bloodless
their hopes clearly enough. They are fight for political and social reform.
ready for a democratic conclusion to More likely-though still uncertain--
the violence that has killed 30,000 would be a coalition formed entirely of
'alvadorans in the last two years.- rightist parties. Such a coalition,,
dearly one million voters-or 90 per- making up in total strength what they
cent of those eligible-defied leftist lack in individual support, would
boycotts of the election by voting on probably crush, in its infancy, chances
Sunday. Facing gunfire from both for Salvadoran democracy. The
rebel attempts at sabotage and rightists have already announced that
military counterattacks, Salvadorans Duarte will be excluded from their
,cast a symbolic vote to end the vicious compromise plans. Their leader would
circle of terror propogated by all sides be Roberto d'Aubuisson, a ruthless ex-
of the conflict, military leader. D'Aubuisson,
M The actual vote, however, proved described as a "pathological killer" by
.politically inconclusive-no party won a former U.S. ambassador, is ready to
a clear majority. President Jose forcibly rid the country of both reforms
Napoleon Duarte's moderate Christian and rebels.
:Democrat party received 40 percent of
*the vote, while right-wing parties split Anything is now possible as the
;the remainder. moderates, rightists, and rebels jockey
The election's real loser may have for position. In a country that provides
:been the leftist insurgents. It had been few models for political sanity, it.
:thought that the rebels represented the seems unlikely that the reasonable
=unspoken will of the people, but the moderate course will prevail. The
overwhelming voter turnout casts people made a strong show of support
.doubt on this representation. The fate for moderation in Sunday's election,
:of the guerrilla army now seems un- but Salvadoran leaders aren't ac-
clear, but their political views may customed to listening to others before
deserve a voice in the. country's future. acting.,
With' the current vote tally, their The danger of another right-wing
political legitimacy is nonetheless in government certainly exists in El
serious question. Salvador's future. Compromise and
The country's fate now hangs on moderation are the ideals to be hoped
what coalition will be struck between for, though their future is uncertain.
the remaining parties. Two Without moderation and compromise,
possibilities are open-one that holds a the country's conflict will continue
chance forpeace and one that is a sure unabated, and the tiny. Central
path to continued madness. American nation will slip back into its.
Reason could win a stay inoffice if familiar long night of repression.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Synchronized swimming s status

To the Daily:
The varsity status of -the
University's synchronized swim-
ming team is currently in jeopar-
dy. The Board in Control of Inter-
collegiate Athletics decided at its
January 25 meeting to discon-
tinue synchronized swimming as
a varsity sport. We, as athletes,
had no prior knowledge of this
possibility and had no oppor-
tunity to address the board. .
Synchronized swimming is the
only sport scheduled to be drop-
ped from varsity status. As a

result of this decision, many high
caliber athletes will not have the
opportunity to obtain a scholar-
ship, swim for a nationally-
ranked team, and receive an
education at the University. It is
our understanding that this
decision was not based on
program quality or lack of funds.
The reasons stated for the
board's decision are:
"Women's sports are now Dart
of the Big Ten Conference and this
conference does not recognize
synchronized swimming- as a

Commencement prayers

varsity sport.
" The University may follow
NCAA rules for both men's and
women's sports, and the NCAA
has no plans to sponsor a national
championship for synchronized
swimming due to the limited
number of varsity teams com-
peting.
We would like your help in con-
vincing the board to reconsider
their January decision and take a
positive role in the development
of synchronized swimming. With
eight years of collegiate com-
petition behind us, the University
synchronized swimming team
has achieved many accomplish-
ments'whicb deserve merit, such
as being ranked third in the
nation and having 17 members
named 'All-American since 1977
(when synchronized swimming
awards were established).
We feel that we have made
very significant contributions to
synchronized swimming on both
national and international
levels-and we made these con-
tributions as a representative of
University women's athletics.
The result of the board's
decision may go beyond the im-
mediate setback from the loss of
varsity status. Our team may

well be eliminated in a "domino
effect." Other universitieshave
decided to save their teams. Ohio
State University and the Univer-
sity of Arizona have opted to
retain synchronized swimming
as a varsity sport.
This sport is a growing one. The
state of Michigan has a con-
siderable number of active syn-
chronied swimming programs
in junior high and highaschool
levels. The sport will also. be.
represented at the 1984 Olympics.
The accomplishments and elite
status of the University's team
increases chances for the
University to be represented at;.
theOlympics.
The next meeting of the Board
in Control of Intercollegiate
Athletics is scheduled for April
27. We ask that you write now to
the board if you care about syn-
chronized swimming and want to
express your concern and request
a review of the board's decision.

To the Daily:
I wonder how many students
are aware that prayers will be a
part of their commencement
exercises. I was shocked to find
that members of the clergy are
invited to deliver prayers at a
ceremony for students and their
families to mark the day of'
graduation.' On one occasion
recently, between the formal
opening and closing of the
prayer, the minister's remarks
on the use of their spare time and
study habits brought a great deal
of laughter from the audience ,
which seemed quite out of place
during a prayer.
At this university we welcome
people from around the world
representing many different
religions. Since we cannot allow
religious expression to all of

them, I feel it is insensitive of us
to include the religious practices
of just a few at what is, after all, a
secular event. The Honors Con-
vocation is a very similar event,
but no prayers are included
there.
Since prayers are forbidden' in
public schools, I would think it
would be illegal, and certainly
unethical, to include them at
events put on by this state-funded
institution.
I hope the Board of Regents
will decide to omit prayers from
all future commencement exer-
cises, and thus avoid the em-
barrassing problems that could
arise if representatives of other
religions request "equal time."
-Joyce Thurston
March 29

-Cathleen O'Brien
Sue Neu
Ruth Pickett
University Synchronized
Swimming team
March 26-

0

Letters and columns represent the opinions of the
individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the
- attitudes or beliefs of the Daily.

Wassermtan
V)ON E&A NERC To1
"TALK WITh I OU A5'OUT
DEFICITS..
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LIBERAL DEFICITS A5
FoLuI tDEFICITS - T{EYRE

CON EWVEh DEFICITS PARE
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SO 5EFORE 'You LET
SOMY'EONE SELYOU
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MAKE S4flE ,

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9

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