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11.07.1975 - 

Herbert Grosch meint:

Checkup Time 11

For 1974, I predicted the disappearance of Siemens and Control Data, with the latter carrying the footnote, "postponed to 1976 if Nixon is reelected". Now, Ugly Dick was indeed reelected, but it didn't stick! And, in 1974, Bill Norris began a series of security-analyst talks and a line of advertising that explicitly converted CDC to a computing services company.- Cybernet, the service bureau Frankenstein monster, and so on. Also Seymour Cray, Hero of Livermore, and Jim Thornton, abashed Father of Star, left the company. Yes, I can claim Control Data disappeared precisely on (the original) schedule!

Didn't do so well on Siemens, however, which as of this writing is still struggling. With the Telefunken losses, about $30 million in 1973, its own losses, about $75 million in the same year, and an extrapolation of government support for R & D based on the 1971-73 triennium figures, I`d estimate Siemens' annual losses before the Bonn subvention to be over $200 million this year, and still rising. Looking at the GE decision in tbe United States, I simply cannot see it houlding out much beyond 1975. Nevertheless, I'm clearly not as accurate on Siemens as on CDC.

I thought 1975 would be the big collapse year, based more on sales trends and on expected collection on inteliigence about IBM intentions than on any aniticipation of the world economic picture as it is today. Remember, 1971 was stories-about-FS time, boom-around-the-world time, pre-Arab time! I predicted the disappearance of Burroughs, Compagnie Internationale d`Informatique (CII), ; Nixdorf "unless they give up current challenges to IBM and withdraw to minis and bookeeping machines" and International Computers Ltd. (ICL), the largest European competition of IBM. I had originally said 1974 for ICL, but in the first six months of 1972 had revised the year upward to 1976 when Tom Hudson was brought in as chairman, and back to 1975 when he in turn hired Cross as managing director.

ICL was known in 1971-72 to have an advanced development (the New Range, or NR) ready to announce. It finally brought it out, and the sexy 2903 especially is being pretty well received. But horrid financial losses, major dependence on Whitehall support and galloping indigestion from the several-layer merger of six or more incompatible original companies, their systems philosophies and architectures and their people continues to depress us observers. I wish it well, would like to see it stand off IBM in the UK. But I expect it to crumble the moment British government support - preferential procurement, research grants and indirect help - is withdrawn. If not 1975, that has to be soon, say 1976.

Nixdorf did indeed very clearly pull back from a projected entry into the medium-machine and number-cruncher businesses, and survives nicely. It has recently felt euphoric enough to mount a small challenge in Tokyo. Good! I was just plain wrong about Burroughs. The Secret Computer Company, the one with the great technology and the invisible sales effort, is doing fine - better in 1975 than in 1971, not only absolutely but relative to growing IBM. Mind you, I don`t believe it is nearly as profitable in the mainframe business as in the small stuff - still, it is definitely viable and will, I now believe, survive at least four...