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Compaq Itanic strategy replacing ‘Porsche with a Yugo’ say users

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Letters Digital has so far been relatively unsuccessful in establishing the Alpha as any kind of a serious Risc standard, but is nevertheless refusing to admit defeat, sees it as its major strategic line of business, and is selling off other, more profitable operations in order to dig itself out of its current crisis. - The Register (Issue 1), 25 July 1994

Compaq's long march into oblivion [don't you mean 'new services and solutions strategy' – ed.] has dismayed loyal Alpha users. Responding to the section where Compaq CEO Mike Capellas favourably compared Itanic to Alpha, one reader captured the mood of betrayal like this:-

As someone who started off in the world with RT-11, did sysgens of RSX-11M till I was blue in the face, ran a 780 shop & thence through open VMS I must say that this is like telling your customers that you have just replaced your Carrera line with Yugo.

He's not alone.

I fully agree on your grim view of this move from Compaq. They will become just another PC company without any distinct flavour, writes Juraj Hlnicky.

Richard Troy, chief scientist at Science Tools Corp and one of the founding members of the first DECSupport team, contributed this elegy:-

Your "Farewell then, Alpha - Hello, Compaq the Box Shifter" article had exactly the right timbre. In a past life, I was a "Digit" (or "Deccie" if you prefer) - still am, somehow, I suppose.

I left the firm twelve years ago and I've always felt I left just at the end of Digital's golden age. I was so frustrated with DEC's lack of ability to apply itself and the Alpha chip in particular. They just wanted too much for it! They didn't get the idea of lower margin with higher volume. And for the company that virtually created the small computer, to see it struggle with first the PC - remember the Rainbow? - was just amazing and depressing to watch. This, followed by lack of marketing savvy in the early '90s, led me to depression regarding all my old friends and the business I'd left behind. To see Compaq buy DEC somehow left room for something positive, but that's all gone now.

Your wonderful comment, "In other words, they'll be shovelling coal in the Itanic boiler room" managed to sum up the situation exactly as I see it!

A few comments say our view of the new Alpha roadmap is either hopelessly optimistic, or unfairly negative. The EV7 is finished, and ready to roll several of you point out. It's the SMT-capable EV8 that's been canned, writes Robert Rose. On the other hand, several of you insist that the EV7 won't now see the light of day. We'll clear this up as soon as we can.

A few of you are much more upbeat about Compaq's prospects, and point out some corrections.

Tandem Himalayas won't be appearing in Alpha form, now. And the Tandem NSK isn't really a Unix – and it's much more portable that that description implies, you tell us. Intel has great process technology – a very good point – and should be able to ring life out of EV7 while saving Q a lot of money. ®

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Farewell then, Alpha - Hello, Compaq the Box Shifter
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