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December 7, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

With PS/2 clonemakers ready to start snapping at IBM’s heels, the company – which announced yesterday that it has shipped the first 20,000 copies of OS/2 – needs to move the Personal System/2 line forward much faster than it did the original Personal Computer, and observers are collecting clues in an effort to predict what IBM will come up with – likely in a major April announcement. Marty Winston of the public relations firm Winston & Winston in Dallas, Texas – he came very close indeed to a spot-on prediction of the Personal System/2 announcement – hears that IBM is working on co-processors for PS/2. In particular, he looks for a co-processor to run the Synergy development environment from Matrix Software Corp of Boston. The Matrix software enables systems integrators to create a graphic user interface that acts like a combined version of GEM and Microsoft Windows, and Winston hears that version of this has been seen at IBM running four windows on a 4.77MHz 8088-based Personal seven times faster than does an Apple Macintosh II. A compressed assembler is used to speed operation with a ROM-based decompressor running on the co-processor – code-named Cynergy. Matrix declines to comment on the nature of its work with IBM but acknowledges that IBM is a customer. The complete Matrix product line includes the Synergy development toolkit, Synergy Desktop, which creates a Mac-type environment on a PC-DOS micro. Within the last month Matrix has also started to ship its Layout computer-aided software engineering product, which runs under PC-DOS or Unix. The products run on the PS/2 and will be available for OS/2 during the first quarter next year and will conform to version 1.1 of the Presentation Manager when that becomes available. Matrix Software is on the brink of having a UK subsidiary, expecting to be established in Plymouth within the next three weeks. The company has received funding from the Devon and Cornwall Development Bureau and hopes to work closely with Plymouth Polytechnic on development projects. Meantime on the hardware front at IBM, Winston hears of a PS/2 Model 90 running at 32MHz – but as there is no 32MHz version of the 80386 available, any Model 90 is extremely unlikely to run at that speed. Our US associate Technology News of America hears of two further top-end PS/2s for sometime next year, the higher running at 24MHz, which sounds more likely, although as TNA points out, even at 24MHz, an 80386 box acting as a file server would hurt the System 36 as much as it hurt the minimakers. The other putative machine is a Model 70 using the forthcoming 80388 16-bit bus version of the 80386, as a first step on IBM’s part to disengage from the 80286 market, which is now almost as commodity-like as the 8086/88.

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