Computers Column

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Software for desktop computers that is designed to provide energy-efficient control of the lighting, heating, air conditioning, and energy-driven ventilation systems in schools, hospitals, and office buildings is now available.

Such "energy management" systems, operated by large and expensive computers, have been used in industry for some time, but the new systems are designed for smaller desktop machines.

One such package, produced by a New Jersey software firm, runs on the ibm Personal Computer.

The system responds to data collected electronically from various points in and on equipment and the building itself, and can control lights, fans, heaters, pumps, air conditioners, thermostats, and other energy-related equipment.

An example of a basic application of the system is temperature control. Sensors on a school building transmit temperature changes occuring during a school day back to the computer, and the system adjusts the building's heating system accordingly. On weekends, the system will keep building heat low enough for energy efficiency, but high enough to prevent frozen water pipes.

A spokesman for the New Jersey firm said a school's cost for the system, including equipment and training, would be at least $25,000.

The Electronic University, a system that connects the personal computers of students and instructors through telephone lines, "enrolled" its first student in an accredited college course on March 8. The system allows students to receive assignments, questions and answers, exams, and other communications from a college instructor via a home computer. The software for this service operates on several types of desktop computers, and costs approximately $90.

Reportedly, some 200 colleges and universities are developing courses that will be offered through the Electronic University network. Some schools, such as Thomas A. Edison State College in New Jersey, already offer full external-degree programs through the system.

Notes: The March 1984 issue of Datamation, a Dun & Bradstreet publication, reports on the relative shares major computer companies hold in the school-computer market. Currently, Apple Computers' 49.4-percent market share keeps it solidly in first place, the report says, but experts predict the ibm Personal Computer will have a significant impact on the school market. Apple's position remains strong partially because of large-scale donations of computers to schools. ... Verbatim Corporation, in cooperation with the American Camping Association, is offering a free directory of computer-instruction camps in the United States. The directory contains more than 100 listings, with information on the numbers and types of computers, instructor qualifications, and programs taught. The directory is available for $1 (to cover postage) from Verbatim, Suite 228, 4966 El Camino Real, Los Altos, Calif. 94022.--ah

Vol. 03, Issue 26

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