NEW YORK — Digital Equipment Corp. hit IBM on its home ground Thursday with products that several analysts said provide a better way for personal computers to communicate with the wider world.
Digital's new packages of networking hardware and software strengthen the company's challenge to International Business Machines' domination of office computing, several outside experts said.
"I see these announcements as IBM-killers. They're missiles aimed directly at IBM accounts," said George Colony, president of Forrester Research Corp., a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass.
Digital, which has grown rapidly to become the world's second-biggest computer maker after IBM, bills itself as the leader in building networks that allow computers to work together and share information.
IBM has announced several steps to improve communications between its personal computers and its maze of other computer lines, but Digital has won new customers with the message: "Digital has it now."
Digital announced three major products on Thursday:
- PC All-In-1, an $81,160 package of hardware and software that it said ties together up to 30 IBM-compatible personal computers into an office network with the company's MicroVAX II computer as the traffic cop.
- A piece of software called VAX-VMS Services for MS-DOS that sits inside Digital's VAX and MicroVAX computers. It allows the powerful machines to act as servants to IBM-compatible personal computers, sharing files and programs with them in their own language. It ranges in price from $650 to $19,500, depending on the configuration.
- Digital's first IBM-compatible personal computer, dubbed VAXmate, which is compatible with IBM's top-of-the-line PC AT. The VAXmate has a base price of $4,045 and costs $6,040 with a 20-megabyte hard disk drive, which is costlier than big-name competitors and about double the price of the cheapest AT "clones."
Digital ignored the personal computer revolution that was sparked by IBM with its introduction of its PC five years ago, and the announcement of the VAXmate is an important step toward getting into the game, said John Dean, an analyst for Montgomery Securities in San Francisco.
In addition to Digital's, new personal computers built around Intel's fast 80286 microprocessor have been introduced this week by IBM, Compaq and Sperry.
Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash., and Network Innovations Corp. of Cupertino, Calif., make some of the software used in the new products.