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SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY : IBM Laptop Could Be Supplier-Friendly for Western Digital

December 27, 1990|Dean Takahashi; Times staff writer

International Business Machines Corp. will try to shake up the laptop computer market by introducing its long-awaited notebook computer on Feb. 26. And the announcement could bring some good news for Western Digital Corp. of Irvine.

IBM will introduce a seven-pound system based on the Intel 80386SX microprocessor with a clock speed of 20 megahertz, according to published reports and company sources. The computer will have two megabytes of main memory, a 3 1/2-inch hard-disk drive with 60 megabytes of memory made by Conner Peripherals Inc., a black-and-white display based on the VGA graphics standard.

Contrary to reports in the trade press, a source said the system will not offer a docking unit that would allow users to connect the system to full-size PS/2 boards, color monitors and a local area network.

The computer will be priced in the $5,000 to $6,000 range.

Western Digital, a manufacturer of disk drives and other computer components, will be one of IBM's suppliers for the notebook computer, sources said. But the sources declined to describe the exact nature of the relationship between the two companies.

Rumors about a big manufacturing agreement between Western Digital and IBM have circulated since last summer, but IBM delayed the launch of the notebook computer, and the contract was never announced.

Meanwhile, Western Digital's arch rival, Conner Peripherals, will be making the disk drives for the machine, sources said.

Western Digital officials have declined to comment on the IBM product announcement, though they have acknowledged a close relationship with IBM and at one point confirmed that they were negotiating a manufacturing agreement with the computer giant.

The hoped-for deal with IBM helped fuel gains in Western Digital's stock earlier this year. But it has since slumped badly with news that the company would take a $70-million charge in the current quarter for costs related to closing down two product lines.

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