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Internet Toaster? Readers react

SunWorld Online readers comment on the proposed `Internet terminal'

By Michael McCarthy

January  1996
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Internet Toaster? Readers react

SunWorld Online readers comment on the proposed `Internet terminal'

We gave SunWorld Online readers the chance to comment in essay form on the notion of the Internet Appliance, and many seized that opportunity. Herewith, we share our readers thoughts received as of midday on January 17. -- Editors

(The comments are reproduced as received; only some minor spelling and punctuation errors have been corrected. You'll notice that some readers are cut off in mid-sentence; apparently the comments field in our server wasn't expecting such extensive commentary. Our apologies.)

Topic: Tell us what you think about Internet terminals

Date: Mon Jan 1 04:56:10 PST 1996
We will have to see what happens. It is sure that some of the Wintel systems are bloated, but it doesn't mean diskless mini machines (IMHO) just machines that can if needed do with less. This will be big in portables to begin with, where money can be spent on things like display and communications instead of disk and memory. I for one will not part anytime soon with my desktop systems but would love to add a portable that does let me connect to the rest of my systems. The desktop systems will run these apps anyway. Also, your questions left out a lot, for example, if the java virtual machine seems to be stable we are will see (again IMHO) lots of speed-ups- fast-java-cpus-thingies like DSP's and Special ASICs tha...

Date: Mon Jan 1 09:47:56 PST 1996
To be popular in the home market they will need graphics and sound comparable to the new 32-bit game machines. A device that allows you to play Virtua Fighter against someone around the globe and also order goods and services from Internet vendors would be a smash success. This device would eventually replace the telephone and each home will likely have more than one. Now might be a good time to invest in a delivery company like UPS or maybe even to start your own. It will be equally successful in the corporate market. It will be as manageable as a centralized system with the power of a distributed system. Easy to manage, powerful, inexpensive; this is definitely the future of corporate computing.

Date: Mon Jan 1 10:35:40 PST 1996
It is natural for human beeings that they want to OWN things and have them under their CONTROL: i.e. programs configured to their needs, private data. Who wants to store this in an anonymous network?

Date: Tue Jan 2 06:28:08 PST 1996
There is a market for cheap, easy to use Internet users for people who do not use a PC, and who do not care to use a PC.

Date: Tue Jan 2 08:24:27 PST 1996
This product will remove the necessity for PDA's. People will be able to store all their data on the Internet and have it accessible anywhere. Although I doubt the feasibility of a $500 device, perhaps one in the $1,000 range will be possible.

Date: Tue Jan 2 09:05:42 PST 1996
The key to their success (or failure) will be breaking the costly cycle of forced upgrades of application software, OS software, and hardware. If this happens, their market will become many times larger than the PC market. The existing PC market will lose only a few of the most price- sensitive customers, and may well expand as some Internet toaster customers trade up. However, it will be forced to adopt open standards.

Date: Tue Jan 2 11:05:01 PST 1996
Internet terminals won't become popular in the short term, but eventually will. Cost will be a factor, but another factor which is seldom mentioned is the freedom from software administration woes, which plague even Mac users.

Date: Tue Jan 2 14:17:26 PST 1996
PCs are dreadful! If you clothe them top to toe in MSproducts and *don't fiddle* they may more or less work, at least some of the time. But really, you have to be determined, knowledgeable, and have lots of time, to get a PC to behave. Connecting to the Net just adds another layer of mishmashed, missmatched circuitry and programming to go wrong, or be configured incorrectly. Look at it this way: When I send this message, it will battle its way through a modem card, along some copper wires, and out into the street. There it will meet a *one hundred* TV channel wide fibre optic cable... That sounds like a classic case of transitional technology to me! For the home user...

Date: Tue Jan 2 19:20:11 PST 1996
I can't wait! My computer at home has become a vehicle for Internet usage, eMail, on-line course work... I also look forward to the time the Internet terminal becomes mobile!

Date: Tue Jan 2 19:32:02 PST 1996
I believe there is a place for them, especially in business with the need for remote/on-the-go offices. The real test will be to get the average consumer to accept it. IF it provides entertainment, education, home banking and IS SECURE, the average consumer will adopt. The days of the home PC user being a "technical" junkie are over. The next round of consumer wants something that works without a heavy technical interface.

Date: Tue Jan 2 21:14:56 PST 1996
Many users intimidated by anything more than turning it on may be attracted if the price is low enough.

Date: Wed Jan 3 04:03:58 PST 1996
The Internet terminal seems so far to be aimed at the home market. This is the wrong place. A better target would be business, education, government, etc. where a large amount of money is spent on PC/workstation support. Estimates for the cost of supporting PCs/workstations run from a few thousand to 10s of thousands of dollars per year. Being able to replace these expensive to support machines with low support cost, easy to manage terminals could save huge amounts of money in many businesses. If proponents of Internet Terminals want to make them successful they should stop trying to push them for the home market and start talking seriously to business to find out what they want. Perhaps more thought should be given to...

Date: Wed Jan 3 05:32:17 PST 1996
I see them as
  1. much like X-terminals, and therefor having a distinct niche market, and
  2. programmable, and therefor much like the programmable graphics accelerators that slowly turn into full-fleged processors and then gain graphics accelerators... as characterized in Foley and Van Damm as "once more around the wheel of karma"
I suspect they will stay X-terminal-like if they don't get disks, and computer-like if they do. And expect them to get disks when used as settop boxes (:-)).

Date: Wed Jan 3 06:36:31 PST 1996
How soon can we buy one?

Date: Wed Jan 3 08:12:09 PST 1996
That's a chance to have a platform-independent solution for not only Internet surfing, but for office automation with sentral server and low costs of ownership and administration.

Date: Wed Jan 3 08:16:26 PST 1996
Could save a lot of work ans stress for company network admin's: A PC is hardly suited for 500+ networked users from the viewpoint of configuration and maintenance. Internet terminals / network / servers with, eg, word- processing and spreadsheet like applets would be heaven.

Date: Wed Jan 3 08:20:30 PST 1996
Will the Internet terminals have the ability to store information/data/files? How about giving it the ability to also have an editor. What about speed and its ability to load graphics data over the net?

Date: Wed Jan 3 08:50:01 PST 1996
Internet terminals will be used in a new market area that is yet undeveloped, and will not significantly negate the existing markets for PCs and workstations. The Internet terminal will be used for consumer access to the Internet whenever the consumer does not have an easy-access home-based PC. Also, that terminal will not be required to perform high quality audio-video, just passable, through the TV. This will be the "everyman" access method when Internet access for shopping or browsing is the only computer activity in the household.

Date: Wed Jan 3 09:05:19 PST 1996
Obviously my opinions are somewhat biased since I work for NCD Systems Corp. I'm also very surprised that NCD was not contacted for this article, as we are the leading US supplier of Internet-based, enterprise desktops that best exemplify the Internet computing model. The Internet terminal is about promoting the holy grail of distributed processing/application servers over the intranet/Internet. Why people are getting hung up on $500 terminals is obvious, but it misses the point completely. The story should not be about how cheap can you make a desktop client, the real story is how the Internet computing paradigm (unlimited application/applet servers on the network to any networked client) is...

Date: Wed Jan 3 09:23:56 PST 1996
I think that a key factor that is being overlooked is ease of use. People should just be able to plug this thing into the wall and have it work. No configuration, no software installation. If it is complicated, it will die. If it is the same price as current PCs but Just Works, people will see their friends using theirs and wonder why they are still fiddling with diskettes and installation manuals. Software availability is the second key. The technophiles will get everything else right.

Date: Wed Jan 3 10:03:34 PST 1996
An Internet toaster is a great idea. Client adminstration is greatly simplified! Running different versions and kinds of software will greatly increase. Charge by use? Keep going with this idea!

Date: Wed Jan 3 10:22:28 PST 1996
This all sounds very familiar. It is the same hype that we heard 6-7 years ago when X-terminals were the ultimate answer.

Date: Wed Jan 3 11:05:53 PST 1996
The "Sony's" of the world will run this business

Date: Wed Jan 3 11:39:13 PST 1996
Motorola, Power PC, RAM/ROM, and ASIC manufacturers are most likely to benefit from a new data terminal market category. This presumes continued acceleration of Internet multi-media popularity and implementation.

Date: Wed Jan 3 11:55:18 PST 1996
Seems to me that they'll be a useful niche, but won't ever replace either home PCs or workstations. They'd be most useful, I think, as replacements for PCs in heavily client-server environments. But they're too limited in data storage to do much more. I hope they're moderately successful, though...

Date: Wed Jan 3 12:18:04 PST 1996
A German company called Escom which purchased the rights to build the Amiga line of computers after Commodore's bankruptcy, said they would release an Internet-bundled Amiga system in February for under 1200-DM (about $840 US). This system is low-end by PC standards (2MB RAM, 240MB HD), but would come with modem, TCP/IP stack, Web browser, etc, and should be competitive because of the RAM-efficient multitasking Amiga OS. I thought of this company when I read your article on Internet terminals, because the Amiga used to be able to do great things with relatively inexpensive hardware vs. the Wintel machines. You may want to research their plans for a future article: http://www....

Date: Wed Jan 3 14:47:03 PST 1996
I think it will be a very effective device if only it can be purchased for less than $300 -- otherwise it is simpler to buy a low priced PC for $900 - and you can do so many more things with it. the PC utility/price point is the critical selling factor. you do not buy a PC to surf the Net -- that is just one of the things you do. also since $1,000 is a significant investment -- people are buying it for long term returns. They want kids to play games, read encyclopedia, do home work, maintain bank accounts among other things. Thus a gadget to surf the net is a great idea but to be effective it must be very price competitive. That will be its critical success/failure criterion. ...

Date: Wed Jan 3 15:21:42 PST 1996
Somewhere in the settop-box home-game-machine market. For those who do not want a PC.

Date: Wed Jan 3 15:26:51 PST 1996
Great idea, but must have ample local storage for user's data. Computing model of the 21st Century is centralized, just-in-time application distribution with user data stored locally (for security).

Date: Wed Jan 3 17:11:24 PST 1996
It's going to open new markets. It will cut into the established market (i.e., Intel/Microsoft) in taking some business that would not have had an alternative. I see this as minor. Most of the purchases will come from home shoppers who either won't pay $2,000 for a machine or those who want a second box in the home for accessing the Internet..

Date: Wed Jan 3 17:49:12 PST 1996
I think that Internet terminals will become popular once we get bandwith on demand at the desktop. Only then would the "InterneTerms" become useful to companies. I guess this is the promise of ATM. The same applies to the Home User, bandwith is the limiting factor. Here in Australia, the new cable companies are promising fiber links to your home to be able to access the Internet. They would then be able to supply an array of applications for loading by the InterneTerm. They may then be able to solve the payment for applications as they would be provider. For all the applet providers, there could be some type of clearing house where you could register your application...

Date: Wed Jan 3 20:04:40 PST 1996
These devices will not fill the same niche that desktop PC's will maintain. They will however take that portion of the market away that is currently using the PC as a communication device, and especially in companies with intranet servers.

Date: Wed Jan 3 23:12:27 PST 1996
I believe Internet terminals will become viable only when s/w vendors start allowing there s/w to be downloaded via the net. eg. as Java programs. Until then they are more or less just Internet browsers.

Date: Wed Jan 3 23:26:45 PST 1996
It must be SIMPLE to use. No modem configuration DIP-switches etc.

Date: Wed Jan 3 23:31:31 PST 1996
Internet terminals may be useful for niche markets, but they'll never run the huge word processors and spreadsheet programs that people are addicted to these days. So most users will still need a PC. So why also have an Internet terminal on your desk? There is a small role for Internet terminals, though. For example, at Michigan State University, there are several dozen custom-built character-based "Internet terminals" in place already. These machines, based on cast-away 10-year-old PC clones, lack floppies and hard drives, and boot directly off the net. They run Gopher and telnet and are very popular as kiosks from which students can check their e-mail and look at campus...

Date: Wed Jan 3 23:50:37 PST 1996
There isn't enough easily available high bandwidth to make the "Internet terminal" really useful. Maybe in 10 years, its time will have come. At which point, it will be REALLY useful, and could replace pagers, PDAs, and all the other electronic paraphenalia folks carry around.

Date: Thu Jan 4 01:55:00 PST 1996
Current computing environment is very difficult to use. The Internet terminal causes to *easy computing environment*, and so *more and more people* get into *this environment*. Easy service, AnyWhere, (AnyTime), AnyThing....

Date: Thu Jan 4 04:08:54 PST 1996
The IPC is not worth the hype. But it will come. Itīll be unspectacular and ubiquitous. A lot of big companies will adopt IPC's across the board because of the enormous savings in configuration and maintenance. IS depts will get more power as DP gets more centralised.

Date: Thu Jan 4 07:07:26 PST 1996
I think that Java is a great breakthrough! Sun has historically been a originator of great technologies (e.g., NFS), and have really done a service to the industry once again. They have addressed the vulnerablities of C++ making it a more viable choice for OO development, while capitalizing on the "The network IS the computer" paradigm -- a perfect fit for the Internet/intra-net architecture. Perhaps as importantly, they (Sun) have set a new target. Much like JFK with the commitment to putting a man on the moon, something that everyone said was impossible -- Sun has given us a challenge to go for. The side effects of meeting that challenge will change the industry -- and more importantly...

Date: Thu Jan 4 07:37:50 PST 1996
Internet terminals may attract the naive first purchaser, who will then have to buy a PC. Users moved from time-sharing on a central mainframe to desktop PC because of low initial price for hardware and software, no continuing costs, convenience, and speed (responsiveness). They will not go back to timesharing because there will have to be on-going subscription or pay-per-use costs, and responsiveness may be missing.

Date: Thu Jan 4 08:36:25 PST 1996
If I could answer most of these questions, I would have a lot better idea about where I should invest. I really don't know how these things will do. I can see that they might be popular with people who don't want a full- fledged PC at home, whether for lack of money or lack of interest in other applications or fear of computers. But I'm really not sure if there are sufficient potential Internet surfers who DON'T want a PC to justify producing them.

Date: Thu Jan 4 08:45:21 PST 1996
Most home users would love a simple surfing machine that doesn't require constant tweaking and purchases to maintain. How many unused PC clones are sitting around in homes because of support problems of one sort or another, or because of lack of user ability? Keep it simple, stupid...

Date: Thu Jan 4 11:29:32 PST 1996
X-terminals can do the same thing. Most likely a version of Netscape will be added as a local client of a cheap x-terminal.

Date: Thu Jan 4 11:38:08 PST 1996
A very low price is critical -- otherwise, it's not worth the time.

Date: Thu Jan 4 15:13:27 PST 1996
I think Internet terminals will benefit many firms, since it will put a high demand for both server hardware and software, as well as for Internet terminals makers.

Date: Thu Jan 4 16:52:45 PST 1996
The comm link will be too flakey for them to be practically used in a reliable sense.

Date: Thu Jan 4 19:26:32 PST 1996
I want a reasonable Internet terminal. It is best for using with modem (28.8kbps), and when I browse contents, it works off-line. beause,in my country, Japan, telephone charge depends on conecting time. Maybe same in France. And vertical size of screen is larger than horizontal because Internet contents is almost text.

Date: Thu Jan 4 21:12:50 PST 1996
Bottlenecks will keep this from coming. We've already been down this road once before and quickly disguarded the X-Terminal for local processing power. If it wasn't a bandwidth problem then it was a server problem or some other problem. People want to be able to DISCONNECT and just do their own thing on there on personnel computing platform without being dependent on some external provider.

Date: Fri Jan 5 03:50:36 PST 1996
For my personnel home interests of graphics rendering and programming, a Net terminal would be an absolute waste of money. I would rather have a powerful processor such as an Alpha or Pentium-Pro with 32MB RAM, 4 gig HD and Matrox Millenium graphics card. But I understand that non-techy people may want a games-console-type device that can surf the Internet -- hell you can do that with the Philips CD-i, and soon with the games consoles from Sega/Sony/3DO, hell, most of these have somewhat powerful processors! Also, before these things take off we will need fast to-the-door comms links, not 28.8 modems! I mean, these will do for WWW/e-mail/news but any "real work" ??? ...

Date: Fri Jan 5 10:12:32 PST 1996
PC terminals at best will be a fad. It is very easy to add Internet browsing capabilities to PCs. Not that many home users will want another dedicated component, one that is not capable of multiple uses. The story will change if the price point breaks below $500. Terminals will reach popularity in a consumer market that is not computer literate.

Date: Fri Jan 5 10:41:12 PST 1996
I think the concept of the Internet Toaster will be the vehicle that makes the "Information Highway" affordable for the masses. The key to the Internet Toaster concept, and to the Information Highway is Volume, Volume, Volume. If enough of these puppies can be produced in volume it will reduce unit cost. The X-Terminal makers are probably in the best position to do it now. The clone makers will clone the first ones to market and produce "Cheaper" toasters. The Hardware makers (HP, DEC, IBM, etc) will refocus on the servers. The software makers will make the Java applets and plug-ins for the toaster to run. I think that Broadway may be something that can be displayed on a toaster...

Date: Fri Jan 5 11:13:46 PST 1996
A number of developments need to occur before there's widespread appeal. I'll be surprised if the initial 1996 boxes don't disappoint most consumers and product reviewers (I hope I'm wrong). Hype backlash could be a significant obstacle in 1997 or 1998 when the product, software, networks and billing systems are developed to a point where the "toaster" really provides significant benefits. Eventually, it will be widely accepted, and will make many of the changes to computing that are now being discussed.

Date: Fri Jan 5 13:33:55 PST 1996
We already offer our users a desktop Xterminal with access to Unix, Windows (using WABI) and Mac (using MAE) applications. We're about to do away with the distinction (at least at the hardware level) between Unix workstations, Macs, and Wintel PC's. We can give each user an X-terminal and configure whichever environment that they are most comfortable with. I see an Internet terminal as an extension of this concept. Whether or not these devices will be useful in the home remains to be seen. I would think that your average video game console with a browser cartridge would fill in at the low end. Higher powered home-based applications will almost certainly need more local horsepower than is being...

Date: Fri Jan 5 13:34:48 PST 1996
They might be useful in places where you don't need to store any data or just want to engage in a little ephemeral Net surfing. I can see surfing, say, in an airport from a terminal while awaiting a flight. However, if one could download data to designated sites, that might make terminals more attractive. Then you could simply have data sent to your own personal server instead of having to download it to a local harddisk.

Date: Fri Jan 5 14:51:23 PST 1996
YOur survey does not address the high cost of maintaining networks of PCs or workstations. This cost can in many cases outweigh the purchase price of the software.

Date: Fri Jan 5 14:54:20 PST 1996
If toasters incorporate as much "data entry" capability as a current browser's forms interface, they would be of great use in this university environment, which is becoming more Web-oriented for administrative information distribution (to say nothing of the academic and research communities).

Date: Fri Jan 5 15:15:13 PST 1996
A viable Internet terminal will probably ship in less than four years. The biggest hurdle for the Internet terminal to be anyone's primary machine will be Internet bandwidth. I don't mind the delays involved in web surfing now because it's only part time and mostly recreational. When I want to get work done, my response time had better be just about real time (for reference, my current Internet connection from work is a T1 line). When these things do ship, the only folks who will make any real money will be the guys who write the best fastest Java applets (assuming nothing better than Java comes along) and figures out the best, most workable pay-per-use scheme.

Date: Sun Jan 7 08:27:42 PST 1996
I think the largest potential early market may be the educational (K-12) institutions. Having been part of a local technology committee tasked with deploying $5 million of technology money, it is clear to me that schools are crying out for solutions that an reasonably priced network terminal would address. In fact ,if you are looking for beta sites to test this hypothesis I would be happy to work with Sun to try to make it happen our district.

Date: Sun Jan 7 11:12:12 PST 1996
Looks a great idea. Can't wait to see what one is actually like. Might take a bit of time for an operating system to be invented for it. Also, access method, built-in modem? ISDN ports? Ethernet ports.....

Date: Sun Jan 7 12:05:04 PST 1996
By the time you get good graphics card, video terminal and high speed modem you may as well have a real computer In will only sell as a second machine perhaps. The great Unwashed will not try to save the 500 bucks.

Date: Sun Jan 7 15:54:42 PST 1996
Hard to forecast .. I am sure as soon as things get more concrete and solutions are found MS will get into the action .. but they might not :).I see the need for smaller PC's with more functionality (that can be changed -- for example by uploading java apps). If a wireless device does come on the market, I'll buy one (hellooo marketing people :) ) .. but it will have to be cheap, like $500, to be able to take off; otherwise, notebooks will do better ..

Date: Mon Jan 8 05:11:36 PST 1996
I'd like one for my work activities yesterday!!

Date: Mon Jan 8 09:01:46 PST 1996
The PC era will end when SSP (Software Service Providers -- coined by me) offer downloadable software ranging from databases to spreadsheets to word processors, for $30/month per user. The software will be Open in nature, i.e., will store the user data (e.g., a word processing document) at the user's terminal in interchange format. This kind of service will extend the usage of Internet terminal for all home/office computing. The Internet Terminal will then become a true client in a worldwide distributed computing environment.

Date: Mon Jan 8 09:42:07 PST 1996
What we need is a PC with faster network connections. The "Internet toaster" is a bad idea, since people not only will want to use Internet all the time, but they will also want the power to run their word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and many other powerful applications. So, many people will end up buying a sub-$1,000 Internet terminal (assuming this becomes reality), and then they will go out in a few days and spend another $3,000 on a powerful PC while seeing that even the fastest Internet connection doesn't help them design a colorful presentation. Macs are out of the question, since it's nothing more than a useless machine produced by a company that does nothing but...

Date: Mon Jan 8 15:34:13 PST 1996
Serious computing power (such as for ray tracing and such) will still need to be available at a server machine (a CPU farm or some such), as well as hard disk space and such. Internet terminals, as currently envisioned, will only provide a novel means of accessing current computing resources provided by now-popular machines and architectures, which will still provide the real resources needed for serious work.

Date: Tue Jan 9 02:54:05 PST 1996
Things need to be done Fast, really fast, in term of time to market to catch the Internet Wave.

Date: Tue Jan 9 07:37:47 PST 1996
I doubt very much if Joe Home-user will trust his Quicken or other confidential and important data files to a shared data-base that he could lose access to at any time. "Thanks you for connecting to the SuperBit Internet Terminal service. We regret to inform you that our system is down for maintenance. You will be able to access your important data files in approximately six hours." Or worse yet, "We regret to inform you that, because of suspected criminal activity, all accounts on our service are frozen. You will have access to your data sometime later this month." Sounds like a recipe for yet another centralized bureaucracy that's inefficient, slow, and top-heavy. And the bandwidth that is required to transfer not just the data for your application but the application itself, ...

Date: Tue Jan 9 07:58:32 PST 1996
I think the Internet terminal will cut into the Gameboy/Playstation market the most.

Date: Tue Jan 9 11:02:05 PST 1996
The real battle will take place in the corporate environment. Home Internet terminals will become popular, but will have a much longer-term effect on the market. Microsoft will attempt to control the developer migration path to Java-based applications, but will fail since they will underestimate the market power of existing and new non-Windows platforms.

Date: Tue Jan 9 15:24:42 PST 1996
I don't think that these are going to be that popular for business purposes. I do feel that they do have a place in education as a cost -effective way for schools to set up on the Internet. It will also go over well in the home. If there is already one computer in the home, this would be a good way to free it up for other purposes (ie. when the kids are on the Internet all night long, the family PC can still be used).

Date: Tue Jan 9 19:13:24 PST 1996
The customer interested to get on-line does not care about a sub-$1,000 terminal. They have 100% of the time at least a PC. If you do not use computers you don't care of geting on the Net. And if you do, you expect the machine you buy, to do everything.

Date: Tue Jan 9 20:26:37 PST 1996
I truly belive that the Internet terminal is a very bad idea. There are too many reasons to go into detail on why they are a bad idea (cost of ISDN lines/equipment, low speed of current "low cost" equipment such as modems, privacy (I wouldn't want my financial information and other data stored on someone else's hard drive since I won't have one), and many more). The business world just got done with the migration from centralized mainfraims to downsized client-server pc's why would home users do the reverse? This is an idea that will most definately fail and I am sur prised to see such great companies like Oracle, Sun and the others backing such an idea.

Date: Tue Jan 9 21:26:28 PST 1996
Why do people think that Intel won't get any money from the Internet terminal phenomenon? A smart vendor will come along and realize that a small, customized, low-power 486 or Pentium motherboard with a few good ASICs will make a cheap and good Internet terminal, and Intel will be selling lots of chips there too. No chipmaker can compete with Intel on a level playing field -- Intel has too much cash.

Date: Wed Jan 10 03:59:30 PST 1996
Internet terminal reminds me of diskless PC: There are some but they are the minority.

Date: Wed Jan 10 05:10:40 PST 1996
If you have an e-mail list for [this topic] let me on it. Thanks

Date: Wed Jan 10 06:18:08 PST 1996
The only way that Internet terminals will become very popular is if the Internet has a "falling out" and content becomes extremely useful and appropriate. Online shopping, tech support, news, and information must have some value to a person before they will give up $500 to $1,000 for a device that can only "surf" the Internet. The devices that will become more popular, I believe, will be computers like those from the Panda project ( where modular sections can be replaced at a lower cost than upgrading the entire system. Without the ability to do other offline functions, like word pro...

Date: Wed Jan 10 07:12:55 PST 1996
We'll be flung back into the past where centralized computing reigned supreme, and security will be another issue since these dumb terminals don't have storage capacities of their own.

Date: Wed Jan 10 08:46:50 PST 1996
Ease of use will be as important as or more important than price. A very large opportunity exists if potential users now put off by the perceived complexity, cost and TRANSIENT nature of the rapidly obsoleted PC hardware and OS environment can be shown a true "Internet appliance" alternative.

Date: Wed Jan 10 13:01:55 PST 1996
The key question is if it connects to a TV, where is the data pipe? My phone line is very far from my TV. Do you expect cable modems to be used? What type of pointing device will be utilized? I'm almost more interested in a mobile Web device.

Date: Thu Jan 11 09:17:34 PST 1996
I think a number of your questions miss the point that a key value to an Internet terminal from a user's perspective is that it has a lower cost of ownership: like an X terminal, it has very little local storage, and so you don't have to spend time administering it (e.g., backups or loading software). Some promoters (the most vocal) seem to want to battle MS&Intel, but plenty of us just want a simpler box to deal with. I, for instance, would like to be able to "rent" sw packages each time I use them, rather than have to buy and install them. If I could dial into a service which charged me when I loaded certain packages (Java applets?), then I could more easily use a variety of packages, worth far more than...

Date: Thu Jan 11 09:54:31 PST 1996
I am delaying my purchase of a new computer for home use until I see if the Internet toaster becomes a reality.

Date: Thu Jan 11 13:11:44 PST 1996
Internet terminal? Great plan, think of the educational use -- finally at schools everyone can have their personal PC!

Date: Thu Jan 11 17:05:59 PST 1996
EASE OF USE!!!!!!!!!!!

Date: Thu Jan 11 17:43:22 PST 1996
My primary uses for Internet access would be:

At Home: 1. Childrens Learning Programs for my kids; 2. Stock trading/investment research; 3. home banking/shopping; 4. e-mail (text + still pictures to grandparents); 5. video e-mail/conferencing (eventually)

At Work: 1. Stock trading / investment research; 2. Technical/Industry/product research; 3. e-mail (text + graphics); 4. video e-mail / conferencing (eventually). NOTE: Internet access at work (at current data rates) is, for me, a net loss in productivity since there are so many interesting (non-work related) web sites to explore.

Date: Thu Jan 11 20:44:48 PST 1996
New video game systems are always popular, so these should be too, if they are sold at a reasonable price. There's a lot of hype about Internet, but many people still do not understand what it is. I think many people will think of it at the latest in home entertainment, rather than a tool for obtaining information.

Date: Thu Jan 11 22:37:24 PST 1996
The Internet terminal will only be useful over a high-bandwidth connection, such as a cable modem. Using one over dial-up or ISDN would be miserable. Therefore, they will be slow to gain market share. Their key value is not low price, but rather ease of use. The talk of $500 price point is rather irrelevant, as the major cost will be the cost of the high-bandwidth connection and software.


Date: Sat Jan 13 15:32:02 PST 1996
There is some arrogance to Internet terminal claims such as those of Oracle. Why? They view the public as passive consumers who are supposed to digest whatever comes from the Net servers. In that sense it's not much different than TV channels with one way flow of traffic. What about running your own server? What about privacy of your own data? Still, Internet terminals will catch on.

Date: Sat Jan 13 20:59:31 PST 1996
You're forgeting the dumb users. For this kind of users, it's better a black box with a telephone plug, power supply, keyboard, mouse and screen. No drives, no files, no configurations, etc. They have money and they are potential customers for Internet; they just need a real plug&play Internet terminal. That's a big market and Microsoft will lose this territory, because they're so dumb for run Netscape from Windows 95.

Date: Mon Jan 15 08:03:28 PST 1996
The most hurt will be whoever doesn't catch and adapt to new tech. The most benefitted will be the consumer and the industry.

Date: Mon Jan 15 11:28:03 PST 1996
Some day the terminals will be just like the mobile telephone business. The hardware will be given away to get customers to sign contracts with providers. Computers and workstations will be around for a long time for people who run other functions on a computer. I believe it will be many years before the Net or other service takes over the need for computers. The telephone companies have a shot at doing something. They are already connected to the end user and have central offices that are large computers already.

Date: Mon Jan 15 12:48:57 PST 1996
My sister has been trying to save enough money to buy an entry-level PC for my nephew and niece, but has never been able to hit the $2,000 barrier. An Internet-based PC will provide working families with the means to start small and add on to a computer -- while gaining some Internet access right from the start. Also, I'm willing to bet that technoids will put down $500 for Oracle's system just to see how it measures up. I predict there will be at least five Internet toasters on the market by mid-1997.

Date: Mon Jan 15 15:35:48 PST 1996
I think the biggest market for a low-cost Internet terminal is the consumer market. Like the X-terminal, it will have a small market in business and industry. Businesses will continue to prefer complete computing systems. The entry level price for the consumer market will have to be well below $500, which is probably why most ITerm proponents target the business.

Date: Mon Jan 15 17:00:31 PST 1996
I think the Internet terminals are a good idea but there are still a lot of hurdles to be jumped before it will get popular. I think it is interesting that most people thought that mainframes would control the future of computing. More recently, people were convinced that PCs would dominate. Now there seems to be a fundamental shift back to main frames (servers) supplying the computing power to run the Internet. The shift seems to be: Large Computers (few) -> Small Computers (many) -> Large Computers (many)

Date: Tue Jan 16 08:00:47 PST 1996
"Terminals" is a word that has a negative connotation such as a mainframe "terminal." The diskless web browser will open the global communications channel that has to date been the exclusive property of those with enough money to afford both a PC/OS/Internet service provider and the talent to install it all. Diskless web browsers will be very appealing to corporate bean counters at Fortune 1000 companies who are sick and tired of buying new PC's for their employees every time Intel upgrades its processor line and/or Microsoft makes up a new larger, more cumbersome OS=more money=more training=more expense. Also, MIS groups will regain sanity in corporate mission critical App/info distribution ...

Date: Tue Jan 16 08:47:27 PST 1996
Maintaining software on thousands of PCs at our university is an administrative nightmare. I like the idea of downloading "applets" (the current version) as needed. Much better control for software integrity.

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