Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Computer Dinosaurs Die With Niches




NEW YORK -- Think of them as the dinosaurs of the computer industry. Once high-flying computer makers such as Digital Equipment, Control Data, Wang, Burroughs and Univac have seen their original businesses vanish in the face of changes brought on by the likes of Microsoft Corp., IBM and Intel Corp.


This Monday, computer maker Data General Corp. became the latest in a long list of names to be swallowed up - in this case by fast-growing EMC Corp. in a $1.1 billion deal.


Data General had suffered a series of tough technology transitions that left it struggling in several niche businesses and selling products under other companies' names.


John Jones, a computer industry analyst with brokerage Salomon Smith Barney, said the principal lesson to be drawn from the demise of such once great companies was that: "You have to find a way to cover your technology flanks.


"Companies in this industry always have to take the next technology opportunity, the next business, very seriously," Jones said.


Many one-time rivals of International Business Machines Corp. in the mainframe business are no longer competitors; Burroughs, Control Data, Honeywell, RCA and Univac have all had their declining businesses absorbed by other companies.


Data General's heyday came in the 1980s, when it unveiled what would be its hottest-selling minicomputer line.


By 1984, Data General was in hyper-growth mode, with revenues topping the $1 billion mark for the first time, company spokesman Ray Thomas recalled.


The company was growing at faster than 40 percent a year, but in an industry whose days were numbered following the arrival of new UNIX computers and increasingly powerful PCs.


A far slimmer company, with 5,000 employees, will join EMC.