WI: Digital Equipment Corporation never bought by Compaq

In 1998, the venerable DEC, after almost a decade of struggling, merged with Compaq.

How long would Digital have lasted had they not merged with Compaq? They were already on their way out, but it's possible they could have lasted a few years longer.
 
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In 1998, the venerable DEC, after almost a decade of struggling, merged with Compaq.

How long would Digital have lasted had they not merged with Compaq? They were already on their way out, but it's possible they could have lasted a few years longer.
Didn't they were on their last legs and their attempt to enter into the workstation market was too late?
 

marathag

Banned
Didn't they were on their last legs and their attempt to enter into the workstation market was too late?
In the late 1980s, all the 'Big Iron' companies that were big in Mainframes and Minicomputers, were suffering hard with the decentralization brought by the Personal Computer. Only IBM really escaped, being so diversified, which included PCs, but soon would go down the hardware dead end of PS/ 2 Microchannel Bus and software dead end of OS/2.
IBM was no longer fully 'PC Compatible' nearly every plug and interface was different
The main survivors of all that was the 6 pin mini DIN plugs and the VGA video standard, that is still common today.
Back to DEC.
They stuck with their cash cow of the PDP minicomputer series too long, and Ken Olsen, Head of DEC, infamously said
'There is no reason for anyone to have a computer in his home'
He was speaking of home automation, but PC designs languished at DEC in the '70s that reenforced that line of thinking.
The ones eventually put out, were incompatible with _everything_ software and hardware wise that was popular, and even couldn't use the vast library of PDP software.

Ken was scared to death of piracy, and each DEC program sold was locked to a single CPU
So unless you were good at recompiling software, you wouldn't be running pirated software.

No even ignoring the PC, they came close to surviving with the newer VAX series, but DEC was out of money and Ideas, while what would have saved them, the need for server for the new WWW and internet, was just around the corner.
 
DEC had great network hardware which would be just the thing for the new and growing internet. But DEC were always too timid. Even their own staff talked about "stealth marketing". Had it been promoted and kept up to date and relevant the company could have reinvented it'self as a network and server company.

By the time it fell into Compaq hands the hardware was getting a bit long in the tooth (Backplane hubs like DECHub 90 that only supported 10 Mbps).
 
DEC had great network hardware which would be just the thing for the new and growing internet. But DEC were always too timid. Even their own staff talked about "stealth marketing". Had it been promoted and kept up to date and relevant the company could have reinvented it'self as a network and server company.

By the time it fell into Compaq hands the hardware was getting a bit long in the tooth (Backplane hubs like DECHub 90 that only supported 10 Mbps).
That makes it even worse for DEC,is not even an innovators dilemma,they could easily have networking as a secondary Market but failed to develop it
 
The problem was that they didn't sell enough.

VAX systems were very smart and did the trick in many ways. The PDP philosophy of either buying an OS of your liking (RSX-11M as an example) or just write one yourself was not a bad approach (as a project at university we had to write an OS for PDP-11 - and it even had to work!).

The new line of near-PC's were not bad either.

But the PC market with standardised SW and easy to install SW killed them. DEC was for the knowledgeable whereas the rest was for layman to install and do.
 
In the late 1980s, all the 'Big Iron' companies that were big in Mainframes and Minicomputers, were suffering hard with the decentralization brought by the..

In the 1990s it seemed I was always bumping into ex IBM salesmen who had been down sized out. They were fairly smart guys and usually were running their own business.
 
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