Systime Computers Ltd, an uneasy fit in the Control Data UK camp, and likely to be floated on the Stock Exchange or sold as soon as it is in a fit condition, hit an all-time-low in February a year ago when DEC took its D-series customer service business in settlement of outstanding claims, leaving the one-time UKP60m-a-year company with 400 employees and annual sales of just UKP14m. It has since cut its staff to 250 but is currently recruiting sales staff to deal with the new series of 32-bit Unix machines launched last week (CI No 668). Systime has not strayed too far from the old enemy, and its new strategy is to go after what it sees as DEC’s Achilles heel, business users of the PDP-11 16-bit mini. It will seek to convert them to Unix on its Series 3 line. Systime is also confident that the larger 3-100 will give it a wider appeal to third parties and looks for around 20 value-added resellers by the end of this year. Systime is also hoping to make its mark in the less developed European markets such as Turkey and Greece that have in the past been saddled with unsupported early model PDP-11s; it says that Trans-Basic has already won it a major share in these countries. As well as raiding the DEC PDP-11 base, Systime will also be going after the Data General market by providing Austec’s Ace Cobol on its 3-30 machine. Ace enables users to migrate their Cobol applications from proprietary operating system environments to Unix and according to the Australian company, Data General Cobol programs have been being converted at a rate of between 10 and 20 programs per day. Systime says that it has already used Ace Cobol for its parent, CDC, which had Data General machines and wanted the applications moved to Unix systems. Systime hopes to be at near break-even by the end of the current quarter, and is pinning its hopes for full recovery on the new machines: it claims two definite orders and one in the pipeline for the 3-100 and half a dozen for the 3-30. The 3-100 will be available in June and the 3-30 in July. And what of the fault-tolerant Parallel Computers machines that marked its first entrance onto the Unix scene? Seems that the best estimate is that it only ever sold three of them, and that the agreement has been allowed to lapse. Parallel is of course now a subsidiary of General Automation.
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