Old Computers For Fledgling Democracies

Old computers don't die, they just head for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. At least that's what Boston-based East West Development Foundation hopes will happen to thousands of Corporate America's aging personal computers.

Established six months ago with a grant from International Data Group Inc., a market researcher and publisher of computer periodicals, the foundation hopes to nurture democratic values by sending donated computer equipment to organizations that espouse free elections, free markets, and free speech. But as with all "free" offers, there is a hitch. Recipients must find their own software, power-supply converters, and other PC necessities. So far, the foundation has sent computers to Eduard A. Shevardnadze's Foreign Policy Research Assn. and Harvard University's Project on Economic Reform in the Ukraine. The foundation also airlifted 80 NEC Corp. laptop computers to journalism schools in Czechoslovakia and in the Soviet Union and plans to ship nine tons of donated hardware by cargo ship this fall.

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