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January 17, 1989

BRITISH TELECOM PUTS GLOBAL PUSH BEHIND ITS UNIX MACHINES

By CBR Staff Writer

In a further attempt to promote itself as a broadly-based information technology organisation, and shed its just a phone company image, British Telecommunications Plc has relaunched the M6000 series of Unix workstations, released three years ago, with the M6320, M6520 and M6530 machines. Only 600 of the original M6000 machines were sold – 480 internally, most of the rest to government departments – but British Telecom says it is confident the relaunch will prove more successful; the range will get support from the company’s Business Systems Support Unit in the UK and, on the European front, value added resellers will be approached to use the range as a platform for applications software. To market the series outside Europe, the company will use the software developed for its Common Office Automation Systems for Telecommunications, COAST, project, and may offer the workstations OEM – it is currently negotiating with three companies, as yet unnamed, to market the series in the Far East, Australasia and the US. The company will look to promote the range as part of local area networks, and claims its existing UK support structures will give it a competitve advantage in the UK market: it will target large companies who, British Telecom says, will be drawn by existing links with the company. The technology for the first M6000 range was bought in from Bleasdale Computers Plc in 1985, though British Telecom claims the new range’s VME 32-bit architecture differs significantly from that originally acquired, and that Bleasedale’s input ceased two years ago. The top end 6530 machine, the only machine new to the market, uses the Motorola MC68030 chip, the others the 68020; the boards for the M6520 and M6530 are still from Tadpole Technology Plc, manufactured under licence by Radstone Ltd. The Unix System V.3 machines serve between eight and 36 users, are Posix and X Open compliant, come with a standard 802.3 Ethernet card and offer an X25 gateway. The installed base of M6000s has an average of 18 users, and Telecom hopes that introduction of the 6530, will push this figure to around 30. Sample config uration prices start at UKP11,000 for eight users and 80Mb of disk, going to UKP47,000 for 32 users and 380Mb disk, through to UKP125,000 for 96 users and 840Mb on the top machine. Telecom is pledged to incorporate RISC and fault tolerance in further machines which Tom Hart, Computer Products Marketing Manager, says will generally be high-end boxes.

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