Pentium II’s litigious debut

Intel’s most recent product launches have been greeted with skepticism about their chances of re-igniting spending patterns in the PC industry, but six years ago industry observers wondered whether lawsuits would stop the Pentium II in its tracks.

Both

Digital Equipment Corp. and Cyrix Semiconductor sued the world’s largest chipmaker shortly before the PII made its debut over patent infringement. Though shipments went ahead as planned, availability for Canadian resellers was tight for the first few months. The Pentium II launch also saw Intel differentiating its product line with the introduction of the low-end Celeron processor. This marked a change in direction whereby Intel decided to offer a socket version of the chip similar to that favoured by AMD and Cyrix. Altering the traditional Slot 1 design of the Pentium II allowed Intel to cut costs as well, the company said.

“”What we’re doing now is we’re developing different processors, completely different from each other for each market segment. So you will have the Celeron line evolving on its own, separate from the different evolution that we’ll have on the Pentium II line,”” said a spokesman.

By January of 1999, however, Intel was already moving on, saying that manufacturing efficiencies would allow it to speed up its product roadmap and launch the Pentium III ahead of schedule.

Back from U.S.R.

This week’s acquisition of Handspring by Palm seemed like a flashback to the days when Palm struggled under the ownership of U.S. Robotics, then 3Com. One of the biggest decisions following these sorts of deals surrounds the brand name: specifically, how long do you keep it?

In 3Com’s case, it only took four months before U.S. Robotics became a distant memory. The company’s president at the time, Eric Benhamou, made the decision public at that year’s Networld + Interop show in Las Vegas, Nev.

Perhaps more important for Canadian users, the transition saw Nick Tidd, who ran U.S. Robotic’s mobile products division here, take over as 3Com Canada’s president in 2000, a position he holds to this day.

Novell: Let the bad times roll

Besides this week’s ups and downs with PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards and Oracle, few software firms have endured the financial roller-coaster ride of Novell Inc., which six years ago began the first of a series of major restructuring efforts designed to improve the company’s bottom line.

The major Canadian impact of the plan, which included a series of executive shuffles, was the return of Don Chapman as local general manager, who had left for a three-month stint as vice-president of North American sales. Greg Myers, who had assumed that role, eventually landed at Tech Data Canada.

Though it enjoyed a brief rebound in the summer of 1999, Novell eventually fell on hard times again and merged with Cambridge Technology partners, which also led to Eric Schmidt’s ouster as CEO.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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