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April 10, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Skokie, Illinois-based US Robotics Corp is diversifying through acquisition yet again: this time the company is making a move on the local network switching market, through the purchase of Amber Wave Systems Inc for $40m in US Robotics shares (CI No 2,865). US Robotics did not announce its plans to buy Amber Wave in advance, merely that that acquisition had already closed. The Acton, Massachusetts-based company is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Robotics and will operate as part of its Corporate/Systems Division, headed by senior vice-president and general manager Ross Manire. One of Amber Wave’s co-founders, Curtis Gridley, has now been appointed director of switching technology and the other, Paul Chieffo, has been given a senior (but unspecified) technical position in the division. Amber Wave’s flagship product, the AmberSwitch Lan Switch – an eight-port Ethernet workgroup local network switch – was announced last year (CI No 2,601). It incorporates an adaptive cut-through switching scheme, which is claimed to combine the performance of cut-through switching with the reliability of store-and-forward switching (CI No 2,645) – a feature Amber claims is unique. In the last year, US Robotics has moved from its core modem market into ISDN, telephone hand-sets, and personal handheld computers, alongside its latest diversification. Once again the strategic justification given is that all of these markets fulfill US Robotics’s ambition to be ‘the information access company’ (although few would view a local network switch as an information access device). Since US Robotics’s other mission is to provide end-to-end systems, it seems likely, however, that the Amber Wave acquisition represents the first in a concerted move into the local network market – and given the firm’s recent flurry of acquisitions, it seems likely that more local network-based purchases are on the way.

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