Sperry spawns new entry in big-computer race

The battle to build the biggest and fastest computer system is continuing.

Sperry Univac, a division of Sperry Corporation, the nation's second largest computer manufacturer, says it has now designed ''the fastest and most powerful'' mainframe computer yet.

In an announcement in New York, H. Glen Haney, Sperry Univac vice- president for strategic planning and development, said the company's new 1100/90 Series computer provides twice the memory capacity and nearly twice the speed of its competitor's sytems. Sperry's chief competitor in the business is International Business Machines.

Mr. Haney said Univac has set its sight on six potential markets with its new computer. These include airlines, energy, finance, distribution companies, manufacturing, and the public sector. For example, the new computer, the company indicated, would allow an airline to expand its reservation system from 17 million passengers per year to over 50 million. Sperry estimates the current value of all general-purpose mainframe systems installed is $136 billion. By 1986, it estimates this market will grow by 60 percent to $217 billion.

Although Sperry claimed that its system was twice as fast as IBM's system 3081 and 3083, securities analysts pointed out that IBM is expected to announce a system comparable to Sperry's within a year. And, since Sperry will not make any deliveries until June, 1983, analysts said it will still be considerably behind IBM in terms of what it can offer its customers.

Still, one securities analyst said the new system looked good ''if it can meet all the technical specifications'' the company outlined.

Another analyst, Robert Christensen, of A. G. Becker Inc., said ''this is a fast-moving business and making competently designed computers still hasn't helped Sperry earn a lot of money.''

Sperry said it used a considerable amount of advanced technology to build the computer, which it said could take up to 25 million instructions per second - thus meeting nearly any demand its customers could make on it.

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