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November 26, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Datapoint UK Ltd yesterday brought the Starbuilder local area networking system to the UK market, touting it as offering multi vendor connectivity to IBM Personalikes, departmental systems and mainframes; as long as the micro is running MS-DOS 3.1 or above. It enables MS-DOS micros to be incorporated in the ARCnet local area network which in turn provides gateways to Control Data, DEC, Honeywell Bull, IBM, ICL, Tandem Computer and Unisys mainframes and minis. The micro can be linked across ARCnet to a departmental system where it can access file, communication and print servers. From there it can be linked to a corporate mainframe. Starbuilder comprises PCLink software which connects the micro to Datapoint’s Resource Management System 3.3 proprietary operating system. A re-director sends file requests to a file server and collects MS-DOS features. Datapoint has made its Vista-Guide interface available in MS-DOS and PC users have the added benefit of the Vista Mail electronic mail system. Vista Connect enables MS-MOS micros to access departmental and corporate systems as would an ARC-based terminal. The software is controlled by a half size standard PC extension card called a Resource Interface Module, or RIM card, compatible with the 8-bit PC Bus architecture. For a PC to use Datapoint file servers running RMS, it must be 100% IBM-compatible and have 640Kb of memory. It needs one floppy disk drive, a free bus slot for the RIM card and must run MS-DOS 3.1 up. Datapoint reckons anyone moving into networks will have to upgrade to MS-DOS 3.1 so this won’t discourage companies in any way. It claims its 7900 file server gives simultaneous access for 150 users with 17Gb of storage space, much more than is available locally. Looking to take UKP2m in orders in the next nine months, Datapoint prefers to think of its PC local area network as a building block to greater things; the compeletely integrated office is its goal. The Starbuilder ARCnet interface card and software costs UKP550. A typical 20 user configuration – including file server, mail server, interface cards and software – costs UKP37,000, rising to UKP120,000 for an 80-user configuration. Systems can be rented over two, three or five years at from UKP32 a month over two years for an interface card to UKP5,045 a month for an 80-user system over five years.

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