The most comprehensive attempt yet to integrate private telephone switching and general purpose computing into a seamless integrated unit – and the diversification that may well save Data General Corp from the minimakers’ graveyard that many confidently predict for the smaller manufacturers locked into proprietary architectures – is due to come to fruition by July of this year. Back in October 1987, Data General and the Japanese telephone giant Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp announced a joint venture, code-named Asparagus, to combine Data General minis with switching systems designed by NTT (CI No 784). Design work on the hybrid machine, which combines a processor based on Data General’s 32-bit Eclipse MV line of minis and a high-end PABX believed to be built around Motorola’s new 88000 RISC microprocessors is now complete. The system integrates both circuit and packet switching technology to incorporate a wide variety of communications modes, including facsimile, dynamically at very high speed. The system combines conventional computing with speech and data switching in a single unit; ISDN, Open Systems Interconnection and SNA support are included. The second phase of the development agreement has been completed, and Data General has supplied a prototype to the Japanese phone giant; full production should be under way by the summer. NTT will market the system in Japan, and to large Japanese multinationals throughout the world; Data General will market the hybrid PABX elsewhere. Most of the development took place in Nippon Data General’s plants in Japan. Why Asparagus? Because the veg etable takes two years from planting to produce edible shoots, but once establish ed, produces indefinitely a highly-prized commodity.