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Hewlett-Packard Unveils Low-Cost Workstation

September 12, 1989

PALO Alto, Calif. (AP) _ Hewlett-Packard Co. introduced a low-cost workstation Tuesday, the first computer product unveiled since it acquired its former rival, Apollo Computer Inc.

The electronics company, which bought Apollo last April for $476 million, announced the Apollo Series 2500, its lowest cost workstation. Priced at $3,990, it’s also one of the cheapest in the field.

The workstation uses a 68030 microprocessor from Motorola Inc. and comes with 4 megabytes of internal memory and a monochrome display monitor. But unlike more advanced workstations, it’s not capable of displaying color graphics.

David Perozek, general manager of H-P’s Apollo Systems division, said the Apollo Series 2500 had been planned before the Hewlett-Packard purchase and proved the two companies were working well together.

But analysts said Hewlett-Packard is not assured of holding on to its lead in workstations, or powerful desktop computers, unless it creates bold products that can compete with industry leaders such as Sun Microsystems Inc. of Mountain View.

The 2500 runs software developed for Apollo’s line of workstations, which use a version of the Unix operating system known as Domain. H-P uses its own version of Unix. The two companies said they plan to offer software that will work with both computer lines, but that they will not be available for two to three years.

Seymour Merrin, president of Merrin Information Services, a Palo Alto consulting firm, said Hewlett-Packard had to unveil a low-cost product to be competitive with Sun. He also said the current workstation price war will make it hard for companies to get enough profits from their products.

″You can’t afford to sell those things at that price,″ said Merrin. ″The bigger companies will be able to take a hit for awhile and the smaller ones will not. Dropping prices like that is crazy, but competitively you’ve got to be there,″ Merrin said.

H-P’s Apollo division also announced on Tuesday graphics software and hardware products for use with top-of-the line Apollo workstations. With prices ranging from $20,000 to $35,000, the desktop visualization system allows engineers to see clear representations of their designs simulated on a computer screen.