Herb Grosch meint

Checkup Time III


Since predicted its 1975 disappearance back at SYSTEM 71,

Compagnie Internationale d'Informatique (CII) has continued to be the flagship of French national computer pride. With Siemens and Philips, it founded Unidata to offer a (somewhat compatible) spectrum of European mainframes. And it soaked up hundreds of millions of dollars in government contributions.

The lower profile of de Gaullism the world economic slump and the domination of the joint venture by Siemens all took their toll, however. In an on-again, off-again, curiously convoluted deal, CII recently bought control of Honeywell Bull. What this means for Honeywell I will speculate about later; for CII, it means a stronger influence in still-moribund Unidata, but on such terms financially and otherwise that the CII chief executive resigned in protest.

Is it fair to say that CII has disappeared? No, unless by applying the touchstone of major new development one equally says it never really appeared in the first place. CII exists, with steady transfusions from Plan Calcul and other government agencies. But the new Bull blood will hurt it, not help it. Both CII and Unidata will "dissolve; and like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind." It would be fair to say I believe, that Honeywell was also hurt; both CII and Honeywell sort of partly disappeared - became more transparent - instead of one losing and one gaining, as in the earlier General Electric/Honeywell deal.

We now pass from the present into the future. In 1976, I said Oki/Mitsubishi would disappear "or earlier, merge with Nippon Electric/Toshiba if forced by the ministry." In spite of recent new product announcements, I'm inclined to think that Oki/Mitsubishi has really dropped behind as a major factor in Japan.

Won't claim it has disappeated, in view of its small but not negligible share of the huge Japanese home market - but explicit change in 1976 looks likely.

I also said Digital Equipment Corp. would be killed of f in 1976 "unless they give up the current DEC-10 challenge to IBM and stick to minis." I continue to believe this very strongly, but Digital successes in the foreign mini market, which it dominates, clearly puts off the evil day of open IBM competition and DEC hazard for half a generation. IBM will be too busy in neo-FS 1976 to bother crushing relatively miniscule DEC. Of course, if IBM should put off major announcement next spring, it might weII bring out a ture mini, and hurt DEC badly, as System/32 has hurt Burroughs and National Cash, and Nixdorf and Olivetti later. But on balance, I look for DEC to prosper until at least 7979.

I had no candidates for merger or dissolution or obfuscation in 1977. It seemed to me in 1971, and still seems to me today, that 1977 will be the year when seriousness of the IBM fifth generation announcement and initial deliveries will be assessed, and the enormous costs of staying in the ball game will become evident to the competition.

In 7978, the game will intensify - the multibillion dollar game of musical chairs will speed up.

At least two of the four survivors will have to retrench or merge - or vanish.

Dr. Herbert R. J. Grosch ist Editorial Direktor der Computerworld