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Precede NEW YORK Personal Computers Shipped With Viruses

January 28, 1992

WESTBORO, Mass. (AP) _ As many as 500 personal computers shipped by Leading Edge Products Inc. contain a computer virus that will erase the user’s files on March 6, company officials say.

The manufacturer is scurrying to send out special software programs designed to chase down the virus and eliminate it.

Company officials said the virus originated in equipment provided by a subcontractor for its IBM-clone personal computers and installed at a Leading Edge assembly plant in Compton, Calif.

″We don’t believe it was sabotage,″ company spokeswoman Susan Zephir said today. ″We think it was something that was inadvertently on a disk that came into our facility.″

Zephir said the incident remains under investigation.

Called the Michelangelo virus, the program will erase a computer’s hard disk on March 6, the artist’s birthday.

The affected PCs were shipped between Dec. 10 and Dec. 27. The problem was detected by a Leading Edge retailer earlier this month.

Company technicians were sent to warehouses to fix computers that had not already been sold and the buyers of PCs already shipped were being tracked down and mailed software that eliminates the virus, Zephir said.

″What you have to weigh is your responsibility versus the cost,″ she said. ″We needed to take care of our customers.″

Viruses are rogue programs that often spread by secretly attaching themselves to floppy disks containing software. When a user takes a floppy disk from an ″infected″ computer and inserts it into another PC, he can infect that computer as well.

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