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August 26, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

SunRiver Corp this week kicks off what promises to be an enthralling season of network computer introductions by going for the big one, betting its business on the Boundless NC devices which it ships today and changing its name and NASDAQ ticker symbol, pending stockholer approval, to reflect it. It hopes to emerge in the New Year as Boundless Corp with a new symbol. The Boundless NC, nee Solomon, is the creation of the company’s SunRiver Data Systems Inc terminal business, now renamed Boundless Technologies Inc, and is available in three configurations (CI 2,902). All three include a pizza-box CPU house. The low-end Boundless TC is aimed at small office and point-of-sale environments for running remotely-hosted Windows applications via Citrix Systems Inc’s eponymous ICA thin client. The software allows the TC to access Windows, Windows 95 and NT applications when attached to Citrix’s NT-derived WinFrame server software. The TC uses a 33MHz 80486 and supports from 2Mb to 16Mb RAM, 500Kb to 1Mb video RAM and 1Mb flash RAM which stores the network driver, ICA client and operating software. It has two serial, one parallel and Ethernet. It costs $650 without a monitor. The two other models are aimed at applications such as retail banking and call centers and intranets. They can run Windows-based applications locally or hosted on WinFrame servers. They both ship with Boundless’ Software Suite for Windows running on its Mach microkernel-based operating system, but await production versions of Sun Microsystems Inc’s HotJava browser environment and other tools which Boundless will deliver as Software Suite for Java. This will bring it up to compliance with the NC Reference Profile created by Sun, IBM, Oracle and others (CI No 2,918). Fully-loaded they’re expected to provide access to data and applications on Windows, web, intranets, Java, Unix, X Windows and 3270 systems. The Boundless XL and XLC use 25MHz and 33MHz Intel Corp i960 RISCs respectively. The XL comes with 1Mb or 2Mb video RAM, and from 4Mb to 32Mb RAM. The XLC has 2Mb VRAM and from 4Mb to 64Mb RAM. Both support 1280×1024 resolution screens, 10BaseT Ethernet standard – 10Base2 is optional – one parallel, two serial. XL street price is estimated at $800 to $1,300; $1,100 to $1,700 for the XLC. All models are supplied with PS/2 keyboard and mouse; monitors are extra. The NCs are expected to ship in Europe next month.

Change or die

Given the shake-up expected in terminal and console markets that will be wrought by NCs and their Java mounts, it’s hardly surprising that president and CEO Gerald Youngblood characterizes the company’s bold move as one of change or die. He doesn’t believe NCs will replace PCs, but fully expects businesses to buy Boundless NCs rather than new PCs; much like the hope for the original X terminal marketplace. He’s not interested in the fickle consumer market and instead has eyes on the opportunity for intelligent internet-enabled terminals in small businesses up to large organizations, pointing to IDC and Gartner research which claims to show the market will be worth over $500m in 1997, $1.5bn in 1998, rising to $4bn by 2000. They see unit shipments rising from 500,000 next year to one million in 1998 and three million in 2000. Boundless also thinks it can clip the wings of NC hopefuls such as Oracle and Sun simply by being more focused on the NC approach. It’s aiming the NCs at firms which would normally buy PCs, but whose needs are suited to NCs, such as banks needing PCs in small branches which don’t have systems staff. It’ll also leverage the business of its other subsidiary, TradeWave Corp, which sells virtual private internet security and electronic commerce software packages derived from Nortel and MCC Corp. It’s boasting some large beta installations such as 10,000 units at AT&T Co. The Boundless makeover comes off the back of the company’s $864,000 second quarter loss – $500,000 for the six months up to June 30 – on revenue that rose 30.2% to $33.4m. Revenue for the six months was up 60.2% to $71.8m. In fact the figures conceal an operating profit of $1.4m on lower margins from the company’s SunRiver Data Systems subsidiary, offset by a $1.8m loss at its other subsidiary, TradeWave Corp, and a $800,000 increase in interest from the company’s acquisition of Digital Equipment Corp’s VT and Dorio terminal business last October. That acquisition was largely responsible for the 30%, $7.7m increase in sales during the second quarter. The company claims an installed base of some five million terminals; it bought Applied Digital Data Systems’ display, X terminal and Pick systems operation and added its own console business in 1994, and acquired Digital Equipment Corp’s VT dumb terminal unit a year later. It sold 500,000 terminals in 1995.

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