Compaq's decision to buy Digital sent me off to the IDG archives, where the yellowing pages of back issues often cast an interesting light on contemporary events. In a special feature from May 23, 1983 InfoWorld, we described the proliferation of portable systems at Comdex. The list of vendors makes amusing reading: NEC, Epson, Radio Shack, and Osborne are still familiar, but what about Gavilan, TeleVideo, and Kaypro? The piece explains that many manufacturers are moving from 8-bit port-ables to faster 16-bit systems "that also offer IBM compatibility". Those vendors include Corona, Seequa, Dynalogic, and Compaq.
Ed Scannell went behind the scenes on the deal between Compaq and Digital, and Ephraim Schwartz examined its implications for the rest of us.
It's a tribute to the people at Compaq that the company has come so far when so many of its rivals have fallen by the wayside. At the same time, it's a little unsettling to see how quickly a vendor that was once part of the pack can work its way up to the top of the heap.
Two become one
Of course, as Corona, Seequa, and Dyna-logic may have discovered, business success requires execution as well as technology. Melding Compaq and Digital's cultures will demand enormous skill and a little bit of luck.
In 15 years, will the phrase, "like the Compaq-Digital deal" come to mean triumphant success or dismal failure?