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February 19, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-02-19

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COMPUTERS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, February 19, 1985

Page 5

Students,
staff take
shine to
Apol
computers
By ROB FRANK
While it might seem that the Apple
Macintosh and I.B.M. P.C. are the onlyr
computers in sight, the University's
College of Engineering is working to
bring another machine to the forefront
- at least in the minds of its own
students.
The machine is the Apollo DN300.
Described by staff programmer Woody
Kellum as "the best machine on cam-
pus for programming," the Apollo has
enjoyed heavy student use in both its
EastEngineering and North Campus
locations since it became available to
students last year.
TO DATE, the University has pur-
chased 70 terminals, and there are
plans to raise that number to as high as
150 by Jan. 1986.
The increase is at least partially due
to a new price to University faculty of
$5,000, roughly half the original retail
price. Plus, engineering officials have
given each of its faculty a $5,000
allowance to purchase computer
equipment.
Because the University has a working
relationship with Apollo through the
college's Computer Aided Engineering
N9etwork (CAEN), ordering the
machines is as simple as making a
phone call.
DESPITE THE computer's
popularity with programmers, Bob
Krause, of the North Campus computer
center doubts' the Apollo will pose
serious competition for the user frien-
dly P.C. and Macintosh
Like the Macintosh, the Apollo
utilizes a mouse to move the cursor and
a pull-screen desktop environment. In-
dleed, the Apollo improves on the pull-
screen idea by allowing the user to open
multiple applications at once.
As Krause explained, the Apollo
capability allows one to do the
equivalent of opening Macwrite and
Macdraw at the same time. One ap-
plication does not have to be closed to
} open another.
Unfortunately, the Apollo does not of-
fer the portability of the Macintosh and
its price is roughly double that of the
Macintosh 512K, a fact which will un-
doubtedly price it out of the student
market.
THOUGH PURCHASE of the Apollo
may be impractical, students have
found the Apollo offers several advan-
tages over the smaller, less powerful
systems. . For programming, the
dedicated nature of the Apollo makes
work much faster than MTS program-
ming. Apollo takes advantage of
three languages: Fortran, Pascal, and
C.

Spreadsheet offer users
variety and flexibility

Daily Photo by DARRIAN SMITH
This Apollo computer in an East Engineering lab is equipped with a color
monitor. Apollo computers are becoming increasingly popular among the
faculty and students of the College of Engineering.

By SCOTT JOHNSTON
and LEO SHARKEY
With computers turning up in homes
today as often as in business or in-
dustry, users are relying more and
more on versatile "spreadsheet" sof-
tware to help them utilize their
machine's potential.
Essentially, a spreadsheet is "a big
fancy, electronic, calculator," said
Wiltse Carpenter, a former employee of
Complete Computer Center in Ann Ar-
bor. For all practical purposes, that
definition fits well.
FIRST conceived by a group of
students at the Harvard Business
School, the original spreadsheet
program, VisiCalc, helped them with
their accounting homework.
Today the programs can handle a
variety of functions from creating
graphs to database management, in
addition to basic accounting.
Like an accounting spreadsheet, a
computer spreadsheet can be thought
of as a large piece of papet divided up in-
to rows and columns with spaces or
"cells" for information.
EACH CELL can represent a label, a
formula, a variable, or a number - in
practice nearly anything. With com-
puter spreadsheets, a user can tailor
the program to their individual needs.
Nor does a user have to possess a
scientific background to work with
spreadsheet software. Most packages
enable a person to easily use the sof-
tware. It's simply a matter of assigning
cells for a desired operation.
Once a spreadsheet is set up, a person
can use it to perform complex tasks like
budget 'management, financial
modeling, and numerical analysis.
BECAUSE THE program allows you
to change a cell at any time, different
"models" can be generated instantly
by the computer - a useful feature for
forecasting budgets or planning finan-
cial strategies.

TRAJECTORY OF A NN BAL
200 ft/se. at 30 veg re-r
1 1
0
Horizonrtal dist-anre inft.
From accounting to graphing, spreadsheet software can be a versatile tool
for computer users.

tware package which produces
professional looking documents with
the use of a laser printer. This inexpen-
sive way of producing resumes and
cover letters has been especially
popular.
"A lot of Ph. D students use it for
dissertations," said Bob Stefanski, a
first year engineering graduate
student.
YET ANOTHER advantage for
students is that the Apollo, unlike MTS,
doesn't utilize the account system by
which users are allotted "money" for
computer time.
Students are free, Krause said, to
come in one of the labs and "hack
around" to familiarize themselves with
the system.
Though limited in its usefullness to
students, the Apollo has won praise for
its research and academic ap-
Vlications.
One of the biggest benefits of the
Apollo is its networking capability.
Besides MTS capability, the Apollo can
also be used to communicate*through
MERIT, a network which links the
computers of the University, Michigan
State University, Wayne State Univer-
sity and Western Michigan University.
This network may in the future by ex-
tended via a satellite-linked system
called INTERNET, to allow the
University's computers to com-
municate with computing systems
worldwide.
THE NETWORKING capability of
the Apollo can also be utilized within
the University setting. A department
can, for example, string several
Apollos together with coaxial cable to
run off a common disk drive or it can
function as a self-contained unit, free of
other units.
Networks such as this are a relatively
new occurence, said Krause. "You can
now buy networking (software) off the

shelf," he said. "Before, if you wanted
to network you had to design the system
yourself."
Another benefit is the volume of
memory the Apollo can store on its hard
drives, and the speed with which that
information can be accessed: Bob
Maziasz, a Ph.D. student in engineering
uses the Apollo to store the tremendous
amount of information used in the
design of micro computer chips, or
VLSI, very large integrated circuits.
Design of the microprocessor is aided
by a color screen available on some of
the terminals at the East Engineering
Apollo lab.
Though Krause doubts that the Apollo
will be of interest to faculty outside the
scientific community, within science
related fields the Apollo has found
many new applicatons.

Another valuable function of spread-
sheet software is the creation of graphs.
The market is full of packages that
allow the user to easily devise visual
representations of mathematical for-
mulas or large sets of data.
With the programs, a person can
make an organized list of information
called a database. Databases can be
composed of anything from telephone
numbers and addresses to payroll
worksheets.
SPREADSHEETS are not for
everyone, though. "Be very thoughtful
about the task you need the software to
solve," said Craig Matteson of Inacomp
Computer Center. There are many oc-
casions, Matteson said, where a paper
and pencil will suffice. If the problem
seems to warrant a great deal of work,
then a spreadsheet may be in order.
Once you've decided that you ac-
tually need the software there *comes

the complicated task of figuring out
which of the programs best suit your
needs.
One software package, Dollars and
$ense, is specifically tailored to finan-
cial applicaitons, while others like
Lotus 1-2-3, cover a broad range of uses.
Lotus 1-2-3 is one of the best-selling
spreadsheets on the market today, said
Mary Allen of Software City. The suc-
cessor to Lotus is a program called
Symphony which combines a spread-
sheet, database, communications ,and
word processing into a single package.
As features vary for spreadsheets, so
do prices. Lotus 1-2-3 has a retail price
of $495, while Symphony seels for about
$695. A dealer can help you choose the
package that offers the optimum price-
to-performance ratio.
Johnston is a junior computer
science major and Sharkey is a
junior honors chemistry major.

The Apollo also
capability. TEX is a

offers TEX
typesetting sof-

MIS Happenings
Tuesday
Chalk Talk: Editor Procedure Examples, 12: 10-1 p.m., 1011 NUBS.
Lecture: Beginner's Guide to the MTS File Editor, 3:30-5 p.m., 165
Business Adm.
Lecture: Using the Apple Ile and IlIc Micros with MTS, 4-5:30 p.m., 2345
SEB.
Wednesday
Lecture: Using the I.B.M.P.C. and Zenith Z-150 Micros with MTS, 4-5:30
p.m., 2346 SEB.
Thursday
Chalk Talk: MTS Sigfiles & Editor Initfiles, 12:10-1 p.m., 1011 NUBS.
Ann Arbor's I
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