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April 7, 1987

AT&T: SEEKING TO CO-EXIST IN ALIEN COMPUTING ENVIRONMENTS AND PURSUING WORLD MARKETS

By CBR Staff Writer

In addition to last month’s new 3B2/600 supermicro and price cuts on the older 3Bs (CI No 648), AT&T Co announced the acquisition of protocol-translation modules from Soft-Switch Inc which will link AT&T 3B applications to IBM’s Professional Office System, Profs, and Distributed Office Support System, DisOSS; DEC’s DECnet, Ethernet and Wang’s VS systems. The links are intended to promote AT&T sales in non-Unix accounts. We need to offer systems that can work with whatever profile the customer implements, explained Vittorio Cassoni, drafted in from Olivetti to be senior vice-president of AT&T’s Data Systems Division. Jack Scanlon, group vice-president of product development, hinted at a host machine for the AT&T line, set for later this year, which is expected to be based on multiple microprocessors and expandable through the addition of printed circuit boards. AT&T also announced a $3,595 AT&T 495 laser printer from Genicom Corp. The new version of Unix System V.3, Release 3.1, been optimised for international communications protocols; enhancements include improved remote file-sharing performance and decreased response time for remote file access, the company says. The release should be available next month for $300 as an upgrade from Release 3. Also included in the announcement was a $5,000 version of the Information Systems Network software, Release 4.0, that supports extensive DEC connectivity through a high-level interface; a $7,500 remote concentrator for the data-switching system; and a $12,000 network management system called Starkeeper that runs on the AT&T 3B1 from Convergent Techologies. Up to 128 voice or data channels can be combined on a Dataphone II 740 Acculink Multiplexer. The system multiplexes data and voice and supports Accunet T-1 1.544Mbit per scond digital services. It should be available in June at prices ranging from $15,000 to $52,000. Starlan Servers, Models 310 and 400, were also included priced at $16,600 and $29,500, respectively. The 3B2-based servers use 10-MHz WE32100 chips and offer IBM Personal Computer access to Unix applications as well as shared printing and file services. New software, a 3B2 Remote Management Package, is said to allow a single 3B2 to manage a network of remote 3B2s, priced at $900.

80386 workstation

By December, AT&T’s product line is scheduled to include an Intel 80386-based workstation that will run both MS-DOS and Unix System V, as well as a modular minicomputer that will run a modified version of Unix. AT&T currently has a market share of just 14% of all installed Unix machines its growth will have to come from markets beyond the US, AT&T Chairman James Olson said in a speech that outlined the company’s strategy for expanding its influence in nations where AT&T is not well-known. The US market is still important to us, but the most promising areas for growth are beyond North America, Olson added. AT&T needs to expand its presence in Western Europe and the Far East, he said. With North America, those regions represent a $500,000m market for information movement and management products. The three regions also comprise 90% of the total worldwide market, Olson said. The underpinning of AT&T’s international strategy is to form alliances with established foreign vendors, Olson said. Currently, AT&T has teamed up with 40 foreign vendors, including Olivetti in Italy, Philips in the Netherlands, and Ricoh and Toshiba in Japan. Olson, however, expressed frustration over political factors barring AT&T’s entry into foreign markets. Innovation and demand have been the greatest in those nations where trade restrictions have been removed or relaxed, he said. Among AT&T’s international struggles has been its battle to crack the French market, bidding with Philips and Societe Anonyme de Telecommunications for partial ownership of the state-owned equipment manufacturer Compagnie Generale des Constructions Telephoniques.

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