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  1. Technology
February 22, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

DEC may have gone out of its way in the presence of Apple’s top brass to emphasise that links with Apple machines were just a part of its interconnect strategy, but Apple Computer Inc, Cupertino, California equally stressed in announcing its recent string of communications tools that DEC links were not the only ones that mattered to it (CI No 853). Apple introduced MacAPPC, its software implementation of IBM’s Logical Unit 6.2 and Physical Unit 2.1 Systems Network Architecture protocols. It also introduced MacWorkStation, a software toolkit that enables developers, resellers, systems integrators and users to create a Macintosh interface for programs running on host mainframes and minis. It also released version 2.0 of AppleTalk for VMS, which enables Macintosh and DEC VAX systems share information across a network. In the Open Systems Interconnection arena, the first Open Systems product for the Macintosh comes from Touch Communications Inc, in which Apple has a minority investment. Touch Communications Inc, Scotts Valley, California, announced its own version of the product, which enables a total of four dissimilar types of computer to work together using the Open Systems Interconnection protocol. The four systems are a DEC VAX, an MS-DOS micro, an Apple Macintosh and a Sun workstation running Unix. Balance of power Apple’s John Sculley reckons that In the 1990’s the balance of power will shift from single-vendor, mainframe environments to multivendor environments. Macintosh computers will be operating in those environments , providing access to the use of information regardless of where it resides, with the benefits of powerful Macintosh applications and the Macintosh user interface. Apple’s implementation of IBM’s LU6.2 and PU2.1 based on the sna62 Facility from Orion Network Systems Inc of Berkeley, California, enables the development of Macintosh applications that can communicate as peers using the LU6.2 protocos and mainframes, minicomputers and personal computers from IBM and others. Potential applications seen by Apple include distributed databases, transaction processing, and other co-operative processing applications. MacAPPC runs on the Macintosh II, Macintosh SE and Macintosh Plus and the Macs share information with the IBM host either by direct connection or over the AppleTalk network with a Macintosh II serving as a shared SNA gateway. The company is including HyperCard APPC with MacAPPC, so that programmers can create applications that can include graphics and sound as well as text, and can navigate through large amounts of information. The stack includes a tutorial on how MacAPPC operates, which also seeks to explain to programmers how they can prototype applications such as data inquiry, electronic mail systems and decision support systems quickly. MacWorkStation is a development tool designed to bring the benefits of Macintosh technology to host environments with a minimum of effort by computer centre staff. Mac interface It enables host computer users to use the Macintosh interface, filing and printing features. Programmers can continue to program on the host using languages with which they are familiar and can develop a Macintosh application without learning any Macintosh programming techniques. It provides programmers with high-level access to the Macintosh toolbox, including control over windows, pull-down menus, dialogue boxes and other features of the Macintosh user interface without writing Macintosh applications. It can also enhance existing host applications by integrating the Macintosh interface without changing the bulk of the application and can also be used with new applications that inherently take advantage of the Macintosh features. As a result, Apple reckons that users will have easier access to host information, and training time should be greatly reduced, as well as system overhead. MacWorkStation also reduces usage of the host processor, decreases network traffic, and should improve ease of use of host programs – altogether an insidious way of proliferating the Mac user interface.

The new co-processor platform is a developer building block for add-in cards for the Macintosh II for use by third parties as well as by Apple. It includes a 10MHz Motorola 68000 processor with 512Kb memory and a bus master interface to the NuBus. In addition, a real-time, multitasking operating system runs on the 68000 and supports a set of services for software executing on a co-processor board, and a defined interface to the Macintosh II. Apple reckons that add-in cards designed with the platform will off-load the central processor so that users will have the benefit of faster response times, will be able to distribute services locally over a network, and will enable developers to reduce time-to-market for new products. To enable developers to build Macintosh co-processor prototypes quickly, Apple will offer a NuBus breadboard card that implements the platform. The new release 2 of AppleTalk for VMS runs as a process under DEC’s VAX/VMS operating system. It implements the AppleTalk network protocols and enables VAXes to connect to Macintosh and other computers operating on any AppleTalk network, including the Ethernet-compatible EtherTalk – and furthers the joint aim of Apple and DEC to provide VAX-based Apple-Talk gateways for Macintosh-to-VAX integration. Apple notes that AppleTalk for VMS has already facilitated development of applications such as Odesta’s Helix VMX database and Alisa Systems’ AlisaTalk file and print server. The new version adds further protocols that enable users and developers to implement terminal, AppleShare compatible-file and print services. Site licence Third party products included with the Apple announcement are Touch OSI Macintosh Developers’ Kit, also from Touch Communications – described as the first Macintosh product that implements the Open Systems Interconnection protocols, enabling software developers to implement networked applications for the Mac that can communicate with other systems on an Open Systems network. And Sinware Corp of Ottawa, Ontario, announced Mac3270, the first asynchronous communications software to support file exchange between Macintosh systems and IBM mainframe applications under IBM’s MVS/VTAM, GCS/VTAM and VM. Mac3270 includes a script language, full-screen 3270 emulation and file exchange with corporate TSO and CMS applications via dial-up lines, including X25 networks. It operates in conjunction with Simware’s host based SIM3278 protocol conversion software. MacAPPC is initially available to developers, and will be more widely available in the summer, at $2,500 for a site licence. MacWorkStation is available now at $2,500 for firms using it internally; $5,000 for commercial resale. AppleTalk for VMS is available at $5,000 for a sit licence. The Macintosh co-processor platform will be available for developers through Apple’s Developer Services Group later this quarter and will be priced then.

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