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Xerox Renews Office-Automation Drive

April 30, 1985

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ Xerox Corp. on Tuesday introduced laser printers, personal computers and several other products as part of a renewed diversification drive into office automation.

Xerox, the world’s largest producer of copiers, has made previous attempts to expand its presence in office automation with mixed results.

Its electronic typewriters, printers and local area network called Ethernet - a device for linking various products within an office - have been successful. But other products, such as its personal computers, have struggled.

Now, however, Xerox wants to concentrate on providing products that help business produce and handle documents, instead of competing head-on against rivals that focus on processing and manipulating data via computers.

Specifically, Xerox said its new products would benefit engineers, print shops within large companies and other users who generate large amounts of written material.

Document management is crucial because ″for most knowledge workers, documents are the tangible form that information and decisions frequently take,″ Robert V. Adams, president of Xerox Systems Group, said in a statement.

Xerox last year sold about $2 billion in office-automation equipment, ranging from its electronic typewriters to Ethernet. Overall company sales were $8.8 billion.

Some analysts praised the company’s new two-year program to enhance the creation, production and distribution of documents.

″In my judgment, Xerox is saying, ’We’re not a computer manufacturer, we’re an output manufacturer,‴ said Philip A. Cavalier, a vice president in research at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc. in New York.

But another observer warned that Xerox’s strategy of selling equipment and communications systems to be used side-by-side with competitors’ products may run into a tangle, resulting in compatibility problems and overloading sales representatives.

″I have a lot of trouble with the shotgun approach. It makes it very difficult to focus your energy,″ said Sherry Geddes of Strategic Inc., a research and consulting firm in Cupertino, Calif.

Xerox said its new products include two laser printers, two personal computers made by Ing. C. Olivetti & Co. of Italy, two word processors from Olivetti, a professional computer system derived from Xerox’s own Star workstation, and software for the new products.

All will be available for delivery by the end of September, the company said.

″Our focus is on the future,″ Frank Steenburgh, vice president of office products marketing for Xerox’s Business Systems Group, said when asked about Xerox’s record in office automation.

″The same kind of effort and planning has gone on behind the scenes″ for the new office-automation stragegy as with the 10 Series of Marathon copiers, which Xerox has called its most successful line of products ever, Steenburgh said.

As part of its new effort, Xerox said it agreed to sell Olivetti’s M24 personal computer under the Xerox name worldwide. Xerox also said it agreed in principle with American Telephone & Telegraph Co. to market the hardware used in the AT&T’s Starlan local area network.

Starlan, which is scheduled to be available late in 1985, uses excess capacity in a business’ telephone system and is cheaper, but slower, than Xerox’s own Ethernet.

Xerox will buy Starlan hardware from AT&T and combine it with Ethernet software to create a local network for a small work group that can connect with a large Ethernet network, according to Bruce Gitlin, a Xerox vice president.

The most expensive product announced by Xerox is a high-capacity laser printing system, the 3700, which is intended for printing volumes at 24 pages a minute. It costs $29,995.

Xerox said it would market all its office-automation products through its 4,000-member salesforce instead of having separate sales staffs for various product groups.

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