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Computer firms can sag, too

The year 1982 will be remembered for puncturing the belief that the computer industry had become recession-proof, says Datamation magazine. Although few companies actually failed, as happened during the last bad slump during the early '70s, profits and sales dropped against a background of massive layoffs, cutbacks in the workweek, forced ''vacations,'' and plant closings.

Because computers have become smaller, cheaper, and more widely used, they are now subject to more short-term purchasing decisions, and have become postponable like other equipment.

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IBM is now thought to be in one of its strongest positions compared with other makers of both large and small computers. As for the rest of the industry , the magazine predicts the outlook for 1983 will be brightest in the areas of small computers and office systems.

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