Macs versus other computers in biosciences (Re: IBI in b.methds...)

SYSTEM MANAGER sistema at biomed.iib.uam.es
Fri Oct 8 17:31:00 EST 1993


	Just a few mor statistis and small facts to consider.

	At the Biomedical Research Institute/Biochemistry Dpt. UAM, in
Madrid, we have mostly Macs (in a proportion close to 40:1) for 'normal'
use (I mean, there are a handful of PCs but all of them are used to
control lab. equipment and only as a data acquisition machine).

	Three years ago, when I came here to get in charge of the Computer
Center, Macs and PCs were used equally. Now, PCs have virtually disappeared
from the horizon.

	In my experience the main reason was productivity. Initially,
scientists looked for price, but once they saw the capabilities of Macs this
became a secondary point. Not having the 640K barrier, with built-in
graphics (remember first PCs required special crds), and upwards and
downwards software compatibility have drive most users to the Mac. Even
windows users switched to it when upgrading to Windows 3 rendered their
applications useless.

	On the other hand, in biology there is a high turnover of 'staff'.
You have pre- or post-doc students that recycle in 4-5 years or less. Having
to teach each newcomer how to handle lab equipments becomes an important
point, and with Macs the learning curve is FAST. Moreover, when we begun
here there were only a few Macs and a few PCs that were isolated from
the environment.

	While installing new printers, network connections, etc... ususally
requires several cryptical and 'inhuman' steps under DOS, doing so in the
Mac is as simple as dragging an icon to your system folder.

	Thus, IMHO, the main force for Macs has been the time saved by
computer-illiterate scientists in upgradins, learning and working every
day, coupled with the more advanced -appealing- results obtained with them
(here, the limited hard fonts and graphics of the LaserJet and the
vast soft fonts and graphics of the LaserWriter have played a BIG role
in my experience).

	In brief, most people here feels that the Mac pays for the
difference in price with its DOS counterparts.


				jr



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