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July 10, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

Vermont Research Ltd of Leatherhead, Surrey has unexpectedly announced that it is moving into the manufacture of personal computers. Vermont is known these days for its solid state disk alternatives, successors to its rotating drum storage devices, which it manufactures at Leatherhead. Peter Harris, marketing director of Vermont, admits that its a strange time to be entering the personal computer manufacturing business, but believes that his company has a store of 20 years experience in the electronics industry on which to draw, which means that it has the background and understanding to contribute that little bit extra to meet user requirements. Vermont’s strategy is to bring a complete box to the user, for Harris says that all too often suppliers are offering an 80286 machine for under a UKP1,000, but not making it clear that 2Mb of memory and both floppy disk drives come a bit dearer. Vermont, however, is offering people the facility to have personal computers made to their own configurations – in particular it is targeting corporate buyers who may well buy several hundred personal computers at a time, and can now buy them OEM from Vermont and stick their own company moniker on the boxes. For example, networking companies can now have the added kudos of personal computers with their own name on. However, Vermont is thinking more in terms of the Amstrad business user than of the IBM customer base. Aside from such tailor-made machines, Vermont will, this month, also announce a standard configuration which will be taken to a wider commercial market by an as yet unnamed marketing company. Harris says that the idea of manufacturing personal computers was hit upon a year ago when Vermont wanted to install its own personal computer network but could find nothing on offer that cost less than UKP4,000, so it decided to put one in by itself and saved around 50% of what a bought-in system would have cost. Besides which Vermont knew it would have some spare capacity at its Leatherhed site because its mechanical disk drive business was coming to an end, and the space and labour that would have been used for the repair and refurbishment of such disk drives will now be used for personal computer manufacture. Despite the fact that the Leatherhead site carried out most of the manufacturing for this US-based company, Harris is not about to try and export personal computers to the US. Nor will the US side involved in mechanical disk drives be manufacturing its own personal computers, since it is now operating as a printed circuit board subcontractor for the US government. Vermont’s entry into the personal computer market may seem laughable but Harris is adamant that the company will give it a good go and plays the game to win – watch out Amstrad.

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