General Automation, Anaheim, California, announced just before Christmas that it had a letter of intent to acquire Parallel Computers Inc, the Santa Cruz, California manufacturer of fault-tolerant Unix machines based on 32-bit Motorola MC68020 chips. Terms of the agreement, which involves General Automation paying shares and warrants for the company, were not disclosed, and the deal is subject to approval by the boards of both companies, but was due to be completed by New Year’s Eve. Parallel’s systems will be offered to General Automation’s existing Zebra dealers and customers, as well as to new markets. Despite the Unix bent of Parallel, General Automation’s chairman Leonard Mackenzie emphasised his company’s commitment to the Pick operating system, saying that the Parallel acquisition was a way of branching into new markets. Parallel’s chairman, James Lally, described the joining as an ideal combination; Parallel designs will make General Automation’s Zebra systems the premier choice for fault-tolerant Pick computing, and General Automation will open new markets and maximise penetration of current markets for Parallel products. Parallel agreed to be acquired because it had too small a sales force and insufficient manufacturing capacity to be viable on its own. Annual sales are running at some $6m, it has placed fewer than 100 systems, and employs 40 people. It has absorbed $21m in venture capital. No-one at Parallel’s UK distributors, Systime and Compass Peripherals, was able to say how they would be affected.