NEW YORK (AP) _ Digital Equipment Corp. on Wednesday became the latest technology giant to fall victim to lowered earnings estimates as its stock plunged more than $11 a share by midafternoon.

The stock was off $11.12 1/2 at $96.50 in consolidated New York Stock Exchange trading, a decline of more than 10 percent. It was the most heavily traded issue on the Big Board.

Digital's decline came after the Maynard, Mass.-based computer maker indicated to analysts that its order rate in the current quarter was likely to be lower than some analysts' expectations.

Despite success in the marketplace, the world's second biggest computer company after IBM has been a serious disappointment to investors. Its stock price is half its peak of $199 a share in August 1987, which was the time of the stock market's all-time high.

Digital's fall followed similar drops in recent months by Apple Computer Inc., Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.

Analysts said there was no single factor accounting for all the reductions in earnings estimates, such as sudden weakness in the economy. In fact, the economy has been growing strongly in recent months.

IBM attributed its more cautious outlook to a chip problem that delayed mainframe computer shipments; Apple blamed stockpiling of high-priced memory chips; and Microsoft blamed delays in shipments of new word-processing programs.

''We had been suggesting for over a year now that the U.S. business has been lagging our internal expectations, and that has continued through the third quarter,'' Mark Steinkrauss, head of investor relations for Digital, said in an interview.

''We have just not seen a meaningful pickup in our U.S. business despite the fact that we've introduced many new products,'' Steinkrauss added.

Carol Muratore, a Morgan Stanley & Co. analyst, was the first to lower her estimates after receiving guidance from the company, Steinkrauss said.

George Elling, a Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst, said he lowered his projected earnings to $1.75 to $1.80 a share in the current quarter. He had expected earnings would be flat with the $2.33 a share a year earlier.

Revenue in the quarter could be $100 million below earlier expectations of $3.2 billion, he said.

''The basic story is still a good one. it's the beginning of a good, solid product cycle for Digital,'' said Laura Conigliaro, a Prudential-Bache Securities Inc. analyst who also cut her estimates.