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April 29, 1994

BULL CASTS AROUND FOR WAYS TO GET CLOSER TO NEC ON UNIX

By CBR Staff Writer

Underlining the mischief that self-important and ignorant politicians create when they interfere in the affairs of industrial companies whose business they are incapable of understanding, Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, having been forced into a shotgun marriage with IBM Corp by the great sage of the computer industry in the Elysee Palace, is now desperately casting round for ways to repair the damage in its Unix business. IBM’s own financial problems made it self-evidently a hopelessly inappropriate partner for Bull, as was shown when it declined to contribute to the latest fund-raising exercise – while Bull’s other industrial partner, NEC Corp, duly put its hand in its pocket. NEC is quite prepared to become even more deeply involved, but the IBM deal threw Bull off its MIPS Technologies Inc Unix strategy with NEC and onto PowerPC. Now according to Les Echos, Bull and NEC could decide to work together in Unix systems and software, but for products to be sold beyond 1996, because we are currently on different approaches, a spokesman told the paper. Whether that means PowerPC or R-series is anyone’s guess. NEC and Bull are also seen to be restructuring their mainframe agreements, having abandoned their across-the-board accord on the GCOS 7 line at the end of last year, because of the demands of NEC’s biggest Japanese client. The two are now looking at intensifying their co-operation on the GCOS 8 line, and collaborating on the development of specific aspects of the DPS 7000 line – chips and software, rather than developing a new GCOS 7 machine together: Bull has decided to go parallel (CI No 2,404).

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