Back in the early 1980s, a debate raged on whether terminal and micro users should communicate with each other via a local area network or by linking through a digital PABX. One or two brave companies – Wang, NCR among them – insisted it was no contest and that local nets should be attached to PABXs, but still have little to show for it. One company, David Systems Inc, Sunnyvale, California, very definitely does: David claims 60,000 connections worldwide for its Information Manager premises local area network which is compatible with PABXs and switching systems, and now the Telic Alcatel unit of Alcatel NV’s Alcatel Business Systems has signed with David to distribute the integrated voice and data local net products, and incorporate the products and technology into current and future generations of digital PABX. Distribution will be worldwide apart from Italy and Japan, with limited rights in North America. Information Manager supports Ethernet workstations, RS232 devices and IBM 3270 displays over ordinary telephone wiring; it is handled by Sharp Corp in Japan and by the Solari subsidiary of Pirelli SpA in Italy.
Meantime David’s Goliath of a US partner, Chicago area phone company Ameritech’s has extended its distribution agreement with David to cover a version of Information Manager for Centrex. Called the Ameritech Central Office Information Manager, it enables Centrex customers to link resources over a local area network, and is driven remotely from a public telephone exchange. Voice and data can be integrated over a single telephone wire and the service will be available from Ameritech’s local Bell companies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. A favourable court ruling back in October 1986 gave Ameritech permission to pump the necessary $2.5m into David Systems to develop the product, but it is still seeking the court’s permission to sign a licence agreement with David that would give it royalties arising from sales of the David-developed technology, with the option of converting the fees into an equity interest. Such an arrangement would enable Ameritech to recoup its initial investment and would consolidate its interest in the young telecommunications firm, which it has been courting.