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November 6, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

UK company M4 Data, the result of a management buyout from Thorn EMI subsidiary Datatech two and a half years ago, last week launched two new GCR tape drives for MS-DOS micros. The M4-8924 with true start-stop performance and and the auto-loading M4 9914, both completely new in design, offer two speeds – 125 inches per second and 42ips, SCSI interface, and full data storage interchange compatibility with other computer systems, from minis through to mainframes. The Wells, Somerset-based company says it has already secured UKP30m to UKP40m worth of export orders with existing customers for the next two years. Costing $6,000 apiece, the two models are aimed at major OEM customers in the existing GCR market which it reckons is worth over $200m a year, and M4 expect a 50% increase in sales this year. Over 60% of revenue is expected to come from OEM sales in the US via its Florida-based subsidiary M4 Data Inc, although the company is hoping to increase its market share in Europe through M4 Data GmbH in Frankfurt, West Germany with the advent of the single European market in 1992. These machines, which M4 believes to be the last of this type to be developed by any company, are aimed at the traditional half inch magnetic tape market for which M4’s David Huntingdon forecasts two or three years further growth before its expected demise in around 10 years time: M4 hopes to capitalise on this afterlife. The rapid development of new data storage technology such as Digital Audio Tape, Video 8, and optical devices has been driven by performance advances in the Winchester disk environment, but as yet there seems to be little agreement on standards. M4 meanwhile intends to play no part in this process until major players enter the fray with a comprehensive set of standards.

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