Apple Offers New System For Desktops

By John Markoff
The New York Times

March 22, 1993

In a shift that would have been unthinkable a decade ago, Apple Computer Inc. will introduce on Monday a line of multi-user computers designed to make the company's desktop systems more appetizing for corporate buyers.

The new computer family, which features three "server" computers to store and retrieve data for networks of desktop machines, is a sharp contrast to the "one worker, one computer" credo on which Apple has stood since it was founded in the mid-1970's.

The new computers, called Workgroup Servers, are the first major products from Apple's enterprise systems division, a new organization that is part of the strategy of Apple's chairman, John Sculley, to place the company in a range of markets from hand-held computing to centralized corporate systems.

So-called client-server computing based on specialized data storage computers connected to desktop machines is rapidly displacing the traditional mainframe and mini-computers of the 1960's for cost and performance reasons. Seeking Market Inroads

Apple is hoping that it can defend its installed base of Macintoshes and make inroads into the rapidly growing server market by taking advantage of Macintosh ease-of-use features.

"No one has really figured out the server market at the application level," said Douglas A. Cayne, a market researcher in the Santa Clara, Calif., office of Dataquest Inc., a market research company. "Apple is absolutely in the ball park, but the big challenge is to break out of their image of being a Mac-only niche player."

The Apple Workgroup servers will range from $3,000 to $5,000 for the low-end model 60 and $9,000 to $15,000 for the high-end model 95. The systems have two to four times the data- transfer performance of Apple's top-of-the-line Quadra models.

Apple executives said there was a clear demand for the new systems from the company's customers, including classroom users and desktop publishing operations.

They also said they believed that the new Apple systems would make inroads in markets based on specific applications provided with the new computers. 'A Credible Offering'

"We believe we have a credible offering and will be able to go head to head with servers offered by Compaq, I.B.M. and clone makers," said Morris Taradalsky, vice president and general manager of Apple's enterprise systems division.

Apple is counting on its ability to simplify complex programs like Oracle's relational data base management to attract corporate buyers who see ease-of-use as a cost-saving factor, Mr. Taradalsky said.

The company is also counting on interest in an innovative text-search program originally developed in Apple's advanced technology group as a research project. The program, called Applesearch, is designed to index unstructured text documents stored on a central server computer.

Applesearch is an early example of what computer scientists call "agent" software technology. These are programs that can be trained to perform some specialized task -- digesting a news wire, for example, and formatting it into a daily newspaper displayed on a computer screen.

Applesearch will also allow a computer user to search through thousands of documents quickly and find the closest relevant match to a particular query.

Copyright 1993