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June 28, 1987

IBM PICKS HAVANT BASE FOR ROLM SWITCHING SYSTEMS FIRM

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM has formed a new European company to pull together its interests in developing and manufacturing voice and data PABX systems and related telecommunications kit in a move to boost telecoms equipment sales in Europe. Called Integrated Services Switching Systems, ISSS, the new company will be the vehicle for the launch of a joint PABX product by IBM and its Rolm unit, which are thought to be rushing to have it ready for exhibition at Telecom ’87 in Geneva in October, although industry watchers think the companies are having problems getting it finished in time. ISSS will be based at the company’s big UK plant in Havant, Hampshire. Frank Onians, a vice president of Rolm in Santa Clara, California, has been named vice-president for ISSS, IBM Europe, and general manager of ISSS in the UK. Until now Rolm has sold its products only into the US market, except for its 8000 ACD automatic call distribution system, which IBM sells in Europe. Rolm’s product range includes the Phonemail store and forward messaging system, which competes with IBM’s equivalent Audio Distribution System; the CBX PABX; a low-end range of PABXs with fewer extensions; and a range of One-Per-Desk-type terminals. IBM is, to everyone’s surprise, still selling its analogue 1750 96-trunk line and 760-extension PABX, a smaller version of the 3750, which uses a 1970 vintage CPU addressing a mere 64Kb memory; One-time IBM chairman Vincent Lear son as far back as 1981 described it, on oath, as a dud, it always was a dud, and still is a dud.

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