In a bid further to raise the level of awareness both of Unix and of its own name, Sphinx Ltd has signed agreements and contracts with a number of organisations including X/Open, ICL, and the UK National Computer Centre. Sphinx has also launched a worldwide Unix distribution network called the International Consortium for Unix Software, ICUS. Besides Sphinx, ICUS is currently made up of eight other European companies, which will market and distribute Unix and Xenix applications. Each member pays a monthly subscription of UKP1,000 and in return gets access to software, support from Sphinx and publicity material. The eight members are Aeni Informatique, Paris; Inforama SA, Paris; Hightech, Brussels; Gaul Computers, Antwerp; Memory Computer, Dublin; Transmediar, Utrecht, Holland; Infotech, Nijmegen, Holland; and BL&R Consultores, Madrid. Sphinx is also finalising ICUS contracts with companies in West Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey and the Middle East and also hopes to expand into Australasia towards the end of the year.
Sphinx expects that the formation of ICUS and its contract with X/Open to design and plan its new portability centre will assist significantly in ensuring the wide availabilty of qualified Unix and Xenix application software throughout Europe. Sphinx with X/Open’s centre director, Basil Cousins, will be developing a full specification for the centre to be released around March. X/Open says that the brief given to Sphinx is to define the methods, equipment and services necessary to establish a centre suitable for software authors. The centre will provide consultancy, assistance and training for porting problems. Although not included in the agreement it is expected that Sphinx will be retained to manage the centre. The centre, to be located near Heathrow Airport, is expected to be open mid-1987. The reasons given by X/Open for choosing Sphinx are echoed by ICL: technical, management and distribution skills. To convince the world that the Clan is indeed a Unix machine, ICL has contracted Sphinx to supply Unix applications to ICL subsidiaries, Trader Point distributors and end users. Sphinx will provide around 30 applications to run on the complete Clan range, including word processing, accounting, generators, communications, graphics, office automation, database management, languages, spreadsheets, project planning and utilities. Support for ICL Clan users will be given by either Sphinx itself or by the new ICUS members. ICUS’ plans to move into the Australasian market will be a major boon to ICL because most of its Unix base is Down Under. Sphinx intends to capture a large slice of the European Unix market and will be using its ICUS group to this end. The Maidenhead, Berkshire one-stop Unix shop says that it will be signing similar contracts with manufacturers to the one with ICL during this quarter.