Tandem, Compaq, Adam, Apple

Ron Resnick (resnick@interlog.com)
Sun, 29 Jun 1997 13:27:15 +0300


Compaq To Acquire Tandem

Positions the Combined Company as the
Leader in=20
Enterprise Computing=

NEW YORK, June 23, 1997 =96 Compaq Computer Corporation (NYSE: CPQ=
and Tandem Computers Incorporated (NYSE: TDM) today
announced the completion of a definitive merger agreement in a
stock-for-stock transaction. In the transaction, Compaq will issue
approximately 29 million shares of Compaq common stock, based on
an exchange ratio of .21 shares of Compaq common stock for each
share of Tandem common stock. Based on the June 20, 1997 closing
price of Compaq common stock as reported by the New York Stock
Exchange, the transaction is valued at approximately $3.0
billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Tandem will become a wholly owned
subsidiary of Compaq Computer Corporation.

<rest of press release available at URL above>
Sorry, these are slightly stale bits -this was announced last week.

I bring it to FoRK attention for a number of reasons.

First, Tandem is whole-hog into lizard-men, aka on the MS train.
(FoRKers lost on what lizard-men are may want to check
http://www.infospheres.caltech.edu/mailing_lists/dist-obj/0376.html )
Strike one down for the ORB camp, or the open-Java camp.

Second, more interestingly I think, is the 'man bites dog' nature of
this. Sure, Compaq had "1996 sales of $18.1 billion". Sure, Tandem
is "a $1.9 billion company" (what's that? annual revenues? market cap?)
Obviously any merger would have to be Compaq swallows Tandem.

But Tandem, to me, symbolizes "big" computing. Enterprise, servers,=20
big companies with big money.=20

I know Compaq is all of that now too, but remember where they started.
They were just an inferior IBM Peecee clone back in 84 or so when they
got started. As recently as the early 90s, they were on the ropes and
close to wiped out. When Compaq was formed, Tandem was the=20
establishment while Compaq was just kid stuff. Irony.

Of course, back then, MS was considered kid stuff too.=20
IBM didn't really take them seriously until all the OS/2 divorce
landed like eggsplat all over their faces.
Apple, surprisingly enough,=20
was considered a lot more 'establishment' than they are today.

Ahh, those were heady days. That recent 'Adam' FoRKpost was
quite nostalgic for me. I remember that Christmas 84. I remember thinking
'hey! that's cool'. Affordable, yet open & innovative: Built in Z80 and=
Wow! (My old Apple II clone had a Z80/6502 dual motherboard too -
many such machines did).

Coleco Adam. Osborne. Atari. Compaq. Apple. Commodore.
Even the cute little Timex Sinclair :-).

My, my. Those were, at one time, all potential leaders/competitors.

Whatever happened to them all?

Coleco and Atari both went the route of 'take our proprietary videogame
systems, and turn them into open, programmable full-blown computers'.
A computer can do anything a videogame system can, and then some,
Whammo. Both dead. Instead, we have PeeCees and Sega/Nintendo.

Compaq rode the PeeCee train to gravyland, and as we see, has=20
just bought itself an
establishment player. Osborne tried to ride the PeeCee train and crashed.
Just goes to show there's no obvious sure-fire ticket to success.

Commodore could have pulled it off, but pulled the shtick Apple is pulling
now (permanent sleepy fuzziness) and crashed.

Apple. I know this list loves discussing Apple, so for a change, here's
Ron on Apple. I think Apple's fate was sealed that day back in 83 or
so when they decided to bring out the Mac as a revolutionary new
architecture, not compatible with the Apple II. The last decade and a
half have been but a slow, staggering fizzle-out death from that fateful

I owned an Apple II clone (remember Apple ][? Gee, that was fun typing
those backwards square
brackets again - just like old times :-).=20
I owned one. Lots of people did. Kids did. Grownups did.
Even businesses did. It was a closed, inextensible architecture. Actually,
it didn't really have an architecture. AppleBasic in ROM hardly counts
as an OS :-). Neither did its puny little DOS (they actually called it
remember?). But how much better was MS-DOS at the time? Not.

Win32 has won today mainly because it can trace a direct lineage back
to the original 8088 based PCs of 1981. That meant that users never felt
they had to start all over - chuck out all the software, all the concepts,
all the learning. It just 'seemed' a gradual progression. Sure, Windows
on top of DOS always sucked, and still does. But it was a market winner.

Apple won the 'clean architecture' battle with the Mac introduction, they
have the moral victory over MS,
but they lost the war. Tactics and Strategy.
Rhapsody is 13 years too late, and is just more of the same.

Can you imagine what might have been, had Apple brought out evolutionary
releases based on the Apple II line, instead of the Mac? Eventually putting
a windowing interface over it, adding a real file system, virtual memory,
(I know, I know about the Apple ///. But it never stood a chance - never got
company support/endorsement, and couldn't compete internally with Jobs&Mac).
Sure, an upgraded Apple II would look atrocious. No better than windows
;-). But we
might all be running them today. Instead of horrible Win32, we'd be
about horrible AppleII32. Instead of Intel, we'd have (who actually made
the 6502s? Motorola? Rockwell? Was there a single vendor?)
Had Apple done this, they may
have actually retained the market share they had back in the early 80s
all the way through to today.

When the Mac came out, I thought of getting one.
But they were expensive, and there were no clones around. I've always
bought clones. I've never bought a brand name. So, my clone Apple II
was the first and last machine I ever had that put me in the Apple universe.
I think there's an awful lot of people like me out there.

I'm reasonably young. But I suspect I'm a bit older than the average age of
most FoRKers.
How many here have a personal sense of history and nostalgia back to the
'first' computing
revolution? To see the wars of today in perspective, you need a good sense
of history.

It's an opinion.



>OpenDoc was eaten by html and Java; Jobs licked the plate and burped. :-)
--David McCusker