Smith Corona Corp. is forging into new territory. Depressed demand and price-cutting in word processing machines and electronic typewriters drove down sales by 19.8% for the six months ended Dec. 31. Now, Smith Corona is increasing its reach with a line of personal computers. Through a joint venture with Acer America, the U. S. subsidiary of Taiwan's leading PC maker, Smith Corona planned to introduce a line of IBM-compatible PCs for the home, student, and home-office markets on Mar. 26.

The products, priced from $1,000 to $1,900, will use Intel Corp. 80286 or 80386 microprocessors. Smith Corona hopes to sell them through selected distributors such as K mart Corp. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. The New Canaan (Conn.) company is stepping into a tough market, however. PC makers have been slashing prices on similar PCs, and the recession has slowed consumer demand. But Smith Corona claims it can win buyers' hearts and homes with built-in software that makes starting up and operating the computer a snap.

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