Date: August 12, 1993 Page: 64 Section: LIVING

Dear Voxbox, Your article saying that Bob Grenoble, president of the Boston Computer Society, does not feel that computers are very useful to the average person seemed almost an affront to me. I have been a member of BCS for many years, and BCS has been a tool for me to receive, and give, much help in the understanding and use of computers. It seems anomalous to me that the president of the world's largest ''amateur'' computer society should be indifferent, if not antagonistic, to the use of computers. When Grenoble was hired as president of the BCS, after an extensive search, many members looked for the ushering in of a new proficiency in dissemination of computer literacy, as represented by computer-related information and skills. If your article accurately represents Grenoble's attitudes, perhaps it is now time for BCS to consider looking for a more compatible leader.

While my family may not represent the average US family, I can assure you that we do use the computer for more than a typewriter. My Macintosh is in use several hours every day. Besides correspondence, it is used for many other tasks.

Our home accounting is done completely by computer -- when income tax time rolls around, all the information needed to complete the forms is already available and collated. Daily stock and security quotations are downloaded into a program where they are stored and plotted. I can see the exact value of our portfolios now and for nearly every day in the past year. Current status of bank and credit card accounts is always readily available.

One of our hobbies is genealogical research. Our computer may be used to collate research, prepare various charts and tables, and to interchange information with other researchers. Whenever I go to a doctor, I take plots showing my weight and blood pressure over the past year, as well as various other health-related information. Whenever a home improvement or landscaping project is contemplated, a first step is to draw, on the computer, a scale drawing. These are only samples of our compute r use, by no means a complete list.

Our five sons grew up in the beginnings of the computer age, and all acquired at least some degree of computer literacy. Three of them are now computer hardware and/or software engineers; one used computers in his career as an Air Force meteorological officer and then returned to school to work on a graduate degree in computer science. The fifth son uses a computer only incidentally in his work. Four of their families have Macintosh computers, and three of our teen-age grandsons have Macintosh computers. Communication between our families is more often by e-mail than by USPS "snail-mail." It is cheaper, faster, and has about the same degree of reliability.

It seems to me that your article must have been written by a reporter who began with a premise, and sought evidence to support that premise. I have not done any extensive research in this area, so I cannot provide statistics to refute the premise, but I can only assure you that I know many computer- literate families.


(Robert--Richardson(AT SIGN SYMBOL)bcsmac.bcs.org)

Dear Voxbox,

I fully support Robert Richardson's view and wish to mention that I am 18 years old and have used computers for school since I was allowed to. (In fifth grade, my teachers would not permit me to turn in typed work.)

In a sense, I use my computer for school exclusively for word processing, yet what a word processor it is! It is widely used, can support multiple formats, can communicate with other computers, and can change typeface.

Although this is not much in and of itself, I can also graph my science data for lab reports, call online services such as the Boston Computer Society and, of course, play games.

I hesitate to call these video games, since the complexity in structure, plot, strategy or graphics far surpasses anything in an "arcade." In fact, though the motion is lacking, recently released flight simulators are consistent enough to train real pilots.

I attend a boarding school where approximately half the students have a personal computer, many of them entirely to themselves (as I do).

My generation has grown up computer-literate. Tomorrow's society will be based on the availability of information. The computer is a necessary tool and will from now on always be more than a simple typewriter.

The personal computer is not specialized; unlike a car, a hammer, or any other tool or machine, a computer can accomplish any number of varied tasks. The only limits on what it can accomplish are those of our imaginations.

Brandon--Schwartz(AT SIGN SYMBOL)bcsmac.bcs.org

Dear Voxbox,

I strongly disagree with Richardson's statements. Being involved and employed in the computing industry for about nine years, I have seen the power of the computer literally explode. In one of my first assignments I used an IBM 8088 to develop a 4,000-record database for a large Boston insurance company. 4,000 records was considered enormous in those days. Since then 4,000,000 records has become unremarkable for personal computing systems, whether a Mac, IBM or even an Amiga or Commodore.

I firmly believe that the small computer system has yet to become a home necessity like the telephone, but has become more of a luxury for people who have some sort of disposable income, or desire a cheap computer for no more than a hobby or learning experience. You can still just as easily, and quickly (try it yourself) balance your checkbook in your checkbook register.

Desktop computing and client server application have exploded in business areas beyond belief and beyondIBM's original plan. IBM had intended the PC to be its entry into the home computer market, envisioning wild success in the home markets and continued growth in mainframe computing sales. To their dismay, the PC has become a staple in any business computing environment, both small, like an automotive garage, or large, like Fidelity Investments for instance.

As for Mr. Grenoble's statements, I agree. The purpose of the BCS is to educate. Large companies pay dearly to provide their corporate end users with Help Desks and education. The BCS fills the other niche, a place where unaffiliated users can get some assistance.

Home computers are a luxury, and it's as simple as that. Until the quality of the national telephone infrastructure controlled by the RBOCS trickles down to municipalities and gives the home user access to the capacity it takes for such beneficial computing, I see home computing staying right where it is . . . a hobby and a luxury.


martinh(AT SIGN SYMBOL)bcsmac.bcs.org

Dear Voxbox,

My jaw dropped while reading last Sunday's front page article on home computer use. I can agree with the writer's premise that growth of the home computer market has not lived up to many analysts' expectations, but I am shocked to read Bob Grenoble, president of the Boston Computer Society, claim that he has little use for home computers. By dismissing computer users as hobbyists and fanatics, Mr. Grenoble betrayed the mission of the BCS and the trust of its membership and volunteers.

I joined the BCS five years ago, and worked as a volunteer for its Macintosh computer group, because I identified with the user group's goal of educating people to make computers less threatening to use. Unfortunately, under Mr. Grenoble's leadership, I have seen the BCS veer away from that goal, and so decided not to renew my membership.

Luckily, the California-based user group BMUG recently started operating in Boston. It seems to be populated with many disaffected members of BCS's Macintosh Group. I would urge anyone who wants to get more out of their Mac to join BMUG. Hopefully, Mr. Grenoble's recent comments will serve as a wake-up call to those who employ him. Perhaps BCS can find a computer user to lead their user group.



Earl--N.--Christie--III(AT SIGN SYMBOL)bmugbos.org

Dear Voxbox,

Bob Grenoble's comments in the Sunday Globe epitomize what is wrong with the Boston Computer Society. Once a computer club dedicated to promoting computer use in the home and business, BCS has all but abandoned its mission to help individuals discover the benefits of computers and make the most of available technology.

The BCS focus now seems to be on corporate "customers" rather than its core membership of computer enthusiasts. For the president of such an organization to admit that he has little use for his desktop computer is strong evidence that the BCS has lost its way.

My recent decision not to renew my longtime membership was a sound one.

Steve--Semple(AT SIGN SYMBOL)bmugbos.org