Lords’ Cricket Ground entered the computer age this week when it played host to a surprisingly large crowd gathered to hear Data General’s solution to integrating the Personal Computer. The PC was originally designed for individual users but since it became generally accepted as a business tool, developers have been trying to solve the problems that entails. A sales team for example may decide it wants to share data and run local applications. To do that it can either buy a micro-to-mainframe link, which would not be efficient for sharing data since mainframes weren’t designed with that in mind, or it can link its PCs in a local area network. Data General says this doesn’t make for a very efficient system and still leaves the problems of back-up and security. Its solution is to link a local area network of micros to a minicomputer, allowing applications to be developed and gateways to mainframes set up. The Westboro, Massachusetts-based company sees the minicomputer as the missing link in PC integration. It must support a mixed community which the Data General MV Family does, handling IBM PCs as well as its own PCs. These are connected via a seamless interface to mainframes and public services like Prestel and Telecom Gold. Cabling is based on coaxial Standard Ethernet and twisted pair Thin Ethernet although Token Ring will be supported as of 1988. DG/PC*I – as Data General calls its solution – features Open Systems Interconnection protocols as a platform for the integration of micros. NetBIOS enables the use of multi-user PC software. Microsoft’s MS-NET is also provided so a user can benefit from the storage and printing facilities of the MV Family. Data General cites three ways of accessing applications: PCs or other terminals can access the minicomputer transparently; shared applications can be set up where PCs and the mini access data from each other depending on which runs most efficiently; and co-operative applications where there is an intelligent link between the two, where they access data and talk to each other. New software productsIn addition to the launch of its total integration solution Data General had some new products for its portfolio. An exclusive version of the CQCS applications development language has been developed by Culver City, California-based Cybertek for the DG/PC*I. And the Gold Works artificial intelligence product produced by Gold Hill Computers, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has had Golden Connection added to it to access MV databases. The Access Technology 20/20 spreadsheet was also announced along with the PC Mail electronic mail system. Data General took the opportunity to let its Communications Systems Group talk about its future strategy. It sees the computer, communications and automation businesses becoming more closely involved until they merge to become one information business. As Colin Crook, senior vice-President of the group says, in the 1970s networks connected computers but in the 1990s computers are going to attach to networks. Consequently Data General is committing itself to Open Systems Interconnection, value-added networks and products, total compatibility with IBM and Integrated Services Digital Network compliance while keeping a keen eye on wide and local area networks. It also intends to form alliances with other companies and is currently working on a joint venture with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp to bridge local and wide area networks. The communications group has set up a number of new divisions over the past year. Genioss, based in Dallas is working on the integration of voice, data and image and the first products are expected in 1988. The division that specialises in the integration of wide area network products is Data General Telecommunications in Rockville, Maryland, while the Network Services group does support the world over. A Data Communications and Network Division has also been set up in Westboro, Massachusetts with bases in Cambridge, England and in Singapore.