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Unisys Announces New Software, Computers Aimed At Open Systems

April 10, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Unisys Corp. announced software and computers Wednesday that the struggling company hopes will expand its sales in the growing market for equipment that adheres to industry standards rather than proprietary technology.

Unisys, based in Blue Bell, Pa., is trying to expand sales by attracting customers who want so-called ″open system″ computers, or those that don’t rely on the technology of one company.

That allows customers to more easily link various brands of computers and use the same software on all of them.

At the same time, Unisys has been providing ways to link these new open- system computers with the old Unisys proprietary mainframe computers that most of its customers use.

Among the 30 products Unisys disclosed are tools to help customers develop applications programs for computers that use the Unix operating system. Unix is favored by customers that don’t want to be locked into one computer maker’s technology.

An operating system is the base layer of software that controls a computer’s internal functions. On top of it a computer user runs applications programs, such as word processors and spreadsheets.

Unisys also announced three new computers that use Unix and are aimed at transaction processing, in which a number of computer users, such a customer service representatives, need rapid information from a computer’s data bank.

The three models are powered by linking a number of Intel Corp.’s most powerful microprocessors, the 80486 chip. Intel’s microprocessors act as the ″brains″ of most personal computers.

Two of the models, which contain up to 30 Intel microprocessors, are built for Unisys by computer maker Sequent Inc. The lower-level model of the three, which contains up to five processors, is built by Unisys using technology it acquired when it bought computer workstation maker Convergent Technologies Inc. in 1988.

At a news conference here, Unisys also announced new software for transaction processing that is based on programs developed by American Telephone & Telegraph Co., the originator of Unix, and software maker Informix.

When equipped with this new software, Unisys’ new high-end Unix model is the fastest computer on the market for Unix-based transaction processing, according to an industry group called the Transaction Processing Council, Unisys said.

Carl Masi, the company’s new vice president for marketing, said Unisys does not need to expand its customer base significantly to return to profitability. Instead, he said, it just needs to grab a piece of the estimated $100 billion its 70,000 existing customers spend each year on computer products.

Masi also disputed a belief by some industry analysts that computer companies cannot make much money selling industry-standard computers, since these analysts believe they are becoming interchangable commodities with low profit margins.

Masi said that is true only for low-end computers, while the sophisticated machines Unisys is making carry a higher markup and come as part of packages that offer customers service and help in designing software.

″Unix hardware is a small percent of the sale,″ he said in an interview.

Unisys lost $437 million last year on revenue of $10 billion, with much of the loss coming from interest payments on its huge debt.

The company has said it plans to sell non-strategic assets and use the money to pare down debt. But Unisys officials indicated Wednesday that no asset sales were imminent.

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