Richard Seltzer's home page  Publishing home

Going International: the seeds of DEC's worldwide business

by Richard Seltzer,, from DECWORLD the company newspaper, March 1983


No one would expect a new and relatively small computer company to mount a major effort to sell its latest and most complex system on the other side of the world. But in 1964, DEC, with about $10 million in annual sales, pursued an opportunity for a multi-million dollar sale of several PDP-6 computers in Australia. It succeeded in selling one PDP-6 in Perth -- as far away from Maynard, Massachusetts, as it is possible to go without leaving the Earth. From that beginning, through the efforts of a handful of experienced pioneers, DEC's business spread through the Far East, Latin America and Africa, becoming a vast worldwide enterprise.


The prologue to this story started six years earlier, when Gordon Bell, a student in electrical engineering at MIT, went to Gordon Bell, a student in electrical engineering at MIT, went to the University of New South Sales in Sydney, Australia, as a Fulbright scholar. There he worked for Ron Smart in the computer lab.


The university had just been started in 1949, and Ron, studying electrical engineering, was in the second graduating class.  shortly after graduation, the university had hired him and sent him to England to purchase their first computer. Then he returned to Australia and set up the computer center, running it as a business that serviced the university an private industry. It was a "DEUCE:" computer. Computer pioneer Alan Turing had been involved in its design. (There's a piece of a DEUCE in the Computer Museum now.)


In 1964, Ron Smart (left), then manager of Digital Australia, and two officials from the Universiy of Western Australia (Professor Birkett-Clews, deputy vice-chancellor, and D.W.G. Moore, director of the Computing Center) came to Maynard for a demonstration of the recently introduced PDP-6 computer system.


In those early days, the university was modelling itself after MIT, and a number of personal contacts had been made between the two institutions. Those ties were probably behind the suggestion that Gordon go to this university.


After Gordon returned to Boston, he joined DEC, then a fledgling company with about a hundred employees. (His is now vice president, Engineering.) Then in 1964, when he returned to Australia looking for someone to set up and manage DEC's sales and service operations there, he offered Ron Smart the job.


"DEC was attractive to me because it was the only company where I could continue to work on hardware as well as on software, and where I could help design system with modules," Ron recalls. "Furthermore, I was interested in real-time on-line scientific applications that were only possible with DEC's products.


The original idea was that I would manage the operation technically and from a business point of view and hire somebody else to do the selling.  But it turned out that the business wasn't big enough to afford an increase in staff.  So to begin with, Digital Equipment Australia consisted of me and a secretary. We worked out of a spare room in the new house I had just built in Turramurra, about seven miles outside of Sydney. I didn't yet have a telephone. I had a call from a public phone at the corner. It took a lot of sixpences to reach Maynard."


At the time Ron went to work for DEC, several people like Harlan Anderson (one of the three founders of Digital), Gordon Bell, Alan Kotok and Bob Lane had already visited Australia at different times, working on a proposal for the sale of PDP-6s to several Australian universities. When Ron came on board, he continued that effort.


"We sold a time-sharing PDP-6 to the University of Western Australia in Perth," says Ron. That was the first timesharing anywhere in Australia. The computer ran for ten years until being upgraded to a dECsystem-10 in 1974. Two cabinets from it are still on display in the Wireless Hill Telecommunications Museum, Melville, Western Australia, and other parts in the Digital Museum, Sydney.


"The market in Australia was sophisticated enough to appreciate that kind of machine. Their sophistication, even today, is born of necessity -- They are so far away from suppliers that they have to learn to do things themselves. DEC's approach -- providing general purpose computer tools and putting computing power int he hands of users -- matched the Australians' typical drive for independence and self-reliance. They are attracted to new ideas and are willing to put in the effort to make them work. So, in many ways, our company and its products are very well suited to the attitudes that are prevalent in Australia."


In those days, the job of a sales manager was highly technical, and the further you went from Maynard, the more technical you had to be because you had to solve your own problems. DECUS proceedings included everything scientists were doing in minicomputers," Ron recalls. "Many of my potential customers didn't even know what a minicomputer was; so I was able to show them what they could do with computers and circuit modules using the DECUS articles from other parts of the world.


"We didn't sell much the first two years," explains Ron. "It was a time for seeding future sales."


When he got a PDP-5 demonstration machine in August 1964, instead of setting it up in his office, he loaned it to the Electrical Engineering Department at his old university. It was connected to actual experiments; so potential customers could see the machine running real-time processing. Months later, when the University purchased its fist PDP-8, the PDP-5 was sold to the BHP Research laboratories in Newcastle. That machine was returned to DEC in 1979 for display in the company's computer museum at Chatswood as the first minicomputer in Australia.


Experienced start-up people were scarce


People form remote areas were often sent to Massachusetts for months or even a  year of on-the-job training. The selling styles they observed during this "training" often differed considerably from what they were accustomed to back home.  For example, Ron recalls that in 1970 when Australian Max Burnet spent a year working in the Boston district, he found a huge difference in the way selling was done. Local sales people would very quickly take a potential customer to the product line for help; Max, on the other hand, would solve problems himself. He would design the interface and work out the program on his own, as "sales engineers" at remote sites throughout the world typically had to do.


Remote sales of large computers, like the PDP-6 and later the PDP-10, were unique opportunities for expansion. Such a sale, with al the support and spares required, sold for more than a million dollars and provided a base to open a service office and build small computer sales. But experienced people were scarce, and those who were used to working far from Maynard were in particular demand; so some of them moved around frequently as new opportunities opened up throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada, as well as Australia, Latin America and the Far East. Once an operation was established, people with different skills and personalities were needed to manage; and the pioneers moved on to new frontier territory.


For example, the first three people hired to maintain the PDP-6 in Perth -- Peter Watt for software and Robin Frith and Bob Reid for the hardware -- ended up in pioneering roles elsewhere in the world, as did Ron.


Bob Reid had worked for Ron at the University of new South Wales. "Then when I left the university to work for UNIVAC, Bob went to Germany and worked for Telefunken, designing computers," says Ron. "When we needed people for the PDP-6, I had someone track down Bob, hire him and take him to Maynard for training.  Bob worked on the PDP-6 in Australia for a time, then went back to Germany and worked in Bonn and Aachen on the PDP-6s that had been sold there." Bot later worked on a variety of projects for DEC in the U.S. and was the designer of the DECSYSTEM-2020 CPU.


Peter Watt was hired in June 1964 as an application engineer and went to Maynard to learn about the PDP-6 software. He worked on the Perth software for a year before going to support the first PDP-6 in the United Kingdom at Oxford.


Robin Frith had attended a modules seminar given by Harlan Anderson back in December 1963, when J. J. Masur was operating as DEC's representative in Australia. Harlan offered him a job and sent him back to Maynard to learn about modules. While he was in the U.S., Robin helped build and check out PDP-6 number 4 before installing it in Perth in December 1964. Later, he returned from Perth to Sydney as General Manager for Digital Equipment Australia, taking over from Ron Smart who became New York district manager under regional manager Dave Denniston. About a year after that, Ron moved to Maynard and became the first manager of what eventually became the General International Area.


Getting GIA started


When Ron went to Maynard in 1967 to work for Ted Johnson, then vice president of Sales and Service, DEC's operations in the U.S., Europe and Canada were organized as regions. Part of Ron's responsibility, along with running the Export Dept., Order Processing and Sales Administration, was to manage and start operations elsewhere in the world.


Australia was set up as a subsidiary, a local company owned by DEC to provide dire3ct sales and service to customers. In Japan, DEC was represented by Rikei Trading Company, which sold mainly into laboratory and scientific applications. In 1968 a DEC branch office was opened in Tokyo.


In addition, because of its growing international reputation and because many people from other countries received their technical training on DEC computers at U.S universities, orders sometimes came directly to Maynard from countries where DEC had no representation at all.


By 1972 Australia/Japan/Remote was a $7 million a year operation -- almost as large as all of DEC was when it started in Australia in 1964. Renamed "General International Region," it quickly grew to $16.8 million by 1973, and reached $1.1 million in 1977.


Int he early 70s, worldwide remote sales were handled by a small group of travelling salesmen -- Tom Robinson, Stewart Wright and Mario Martinello. (Mario is now Sales Group manager for Central and South America).


Bob Buckley, who joined Ron as administrative assistant in 1972 (he's now executive director of DECUS GIA), recalls that the headquarters Sales staff consisted of just himself, Ron, two secretaries and a person who handled order processing.  "Ron would go off for three or four weeks at a time, and we'd handle all the mail. Everyone participated, it was pretty much a ma-and-pa operation."


"When vying for selling and advertising money from the product lines, Europe and the U.S. would do a full presentation, complete with a staff, flip charts and overheads," remembers Bob. "We, who were nowhere near that sophisticated, had to rely on verbal persuasion. Looking back it was a very exciting period; at times it seems impossible that GIA has grown so rapidly in so many ways in such a short time."


Theoretically, GIA could have been managed from almost anywhere in the world, but having headquarters near Maynard provided easy access to Manufacturing, to the product lines, and to support functions that, as a small operation, they couldn't afford to develop for themselves.


"Musch of what we were doing was new for the company and required a lot of follow-up and communications," explains Bob. "We were shipping to countries we had never shipped to before, and coping with the shifting legal requirements of a wide variety of countries."


"We didn't give discounts at all," notes Ron. "We needed all the money we could get to be able support the equipment if it got into trouble. Typically you'd add as much as a third to the hardware price to cover such things as spare parts and installations."


Some remote countries, like the Philippines, sent orders that, while tempting, had to be turned down because there was no way DEC could properly support the equipment.


Deciding where to set up business


To decide where DEC should do business, Ron first looked at the gross national product (GNP), a relatively good index of the total amount of business in a country and hence of the need for computers. "The revenue from all computer sales in a country tends to be a somewhat predictable percentage of the GNP," explains Ron. "More specifically, if certain applications are done in country X and also in country Y, then the ratio of potential computer sales (for that application) to GNP would tend to be the same in both countries. So by looking at the GNP, you can get a rough estimate how much revenue you might get if you set up a business there.


"In the early 70s, the total computer market in most countries was approaching 1% of the GNP, and DEC could expe3ct about 5 or 6% of that 1%.  So you could quickly calculate whether it could be worthwhile for DEC to consider getting involved in a new country."


Another important consideration was IBM. "If IBM wasn't there, then probably nobody had ever heard of a computer," says Ron. Concentrating on sales of mainframe computers for batch data processing applications, IBM let people know what computers were about and left minicomputer-type applications open for DEC.


"To get started in a country," says Ron, "we would go to universities and government research institutions and begin to attract interest, the way I was attracted to DEC, as a company with real-time minicomputer and opportunities to meddle with the hardware as well as the software.


"In those days too," Ron continues, "we had the worldwide community of nuclear physicists spreading the word about our products. Every nuclear physicist knew DEC was the place to go for real-time instrumentation and for the processing of experimental data. Many of our large PDP-6s and PDP-10s were used for nuclear physics. Later our reputation spread throughout other communities of scientists and engineers."


Information about computer opportunities in one country, such as the U.S., had to be translated into the context of other countries, to decide where to concentrate GIA's limited resources.  "With time we became more sophisticated about this," says Ron. "We would take the GNP, segment it by industry, look closely at the industries we knew we could sell computers to, then translate this information into computer applications and product line opportunities."


There was one threshold point for setting up business through a rep, and another for selling directly. When looking for a good technical representative in a new country, DEC would typically try to get the same one that U.S. and European electronic instrumentation companies used. Often these were OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) of ours," explains Ron, "so a a rep who knew about our machines from working with us, would be in a good position to sell and service products from the OEM that had our computer inside it. This was a very synergistic relationship."


The approach to a country varied to meet local national need.  For instance, India, with a very large GNP, has a a relatively small computer market because of a variety of government controls and restrictions aimed at developing local industry. DEC worked through Hinditron, the same distributor Tektronix and Fluke used. "They are very good," Ron emphasizes. "They enabled us to talk with the government and to find rational ways to satisfy their local industrial development objectives and still import the products they needed from us. In other countries with large business potential we had much more difficulty arriving at a rational understanding.


"Our first OEM in India was the Indian government itself. They set up an organization to put together a defense system using our computers. Later that same organization worked on computer applications for offshore oil rigs, once again with DEC computers."


GIA profitability grows


By 1977, GIA was doing business in 17 different countries. "We set up an accounting system with profit and loss (P&L) calculated at the country level," explains Ron. "This facilitated the decentralization of business decision-making and helped the countries lean how to operate within corporate business objectives."


"Throughout its history, GIA was the fastest growing and most profitable area of the whole company -- it had to be profitable to compete with the  U.S. and Europe for funding from the product lines. We had to convince the product lines that it was a good idea to invest in places with cultures they didn't understand.


:Our profitability was helped by the fact that we were able to measure at the country level and make corrections, adjusting the country prices and terms to achieve our profitable growth goals in each country."


Frontier tales [sidebar to accompany "Going International"]


In 1971 when Ron Smart needed someone to start up business in Mexico, he called on Dave Dodge whom he had worked with in the New York district. "Dave was super good technically and a good salesman and contract negotiator," remembers Ron. "Also, he was the kind of person who could manage on his own."


After that first contact with Dave, Ron called on him repeatedly, having him start up DEC's distributor and/or subsidiary operations in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia and Iran.


"Ron just said -- go off and do it. I frequently went into those countries alone. I spoke enough Spanish and Portuguese to get by. Our legal and financial contacts were often associates of firms that we dealt with in the States. Also, most of our customers had been educated in the States or in Europe. They knew our equipment from using it in their studies or research; so when they went back to their homeland they bought DEC computers even though they had to do so under 'remote terms and conditions' They usually spoke very good English.


"The most difficult task when going into a new country was to figure out the local cultural nuances. There's an old Brazilian saying that 'the shortest distance tween two points is a spiral.' You to come at problems from the side, even pretend that you're not approaching the problem, even seem disinterested.


"The best thing about working in remote locations was that you had to be prepared to do almost anything yourself. In South America, the distances were so vast that on any given trip you might have to design a standalone controller implemented in DEC's flip-chip logic modules, hep a customer debug a computer interface, give a presentation on the internals of the PDP-10 interactive operating system, and discuss with a local attorney the tax implications of a DEC contract of sale executed in that country.


"As DEC's market share increased and the decision to set up a new subsidiary was agreed upon, the emphasis of the work changed from technical to business matter. International banking, patents and trademarks, import duties, and pricing and support policies became a part of your everyday work, until, finally, a new subsidiary was born."


Dave, who now does systems engineering for the Government Systems Group, has been with DEC almost 18 years. Before working for Ron, he was district sales manger for the Great Lakes, and before that branch manager for Parsippany, N.J., and before that a "logic modules applications engineer," working out of Parsippany.


Deep roots in Canada


DEC is the second largest computer company in Canada in terms of revenues and number of computers installed," notes Dave Whiteside, president, Digital Equipment of Canada Ltd. In the annual ranking of Canadian companies published by the Financial Post, based on FY81 revenues ($252 million Canadian), DEC was number 228. (That's Canadian companies and Canadian revenues).


Canada has only 24 million people, and a gross national product that is about 10 percent of that of the U.S. But the Canadian and U.S. markets are very similar. "What sells in the U.S., generally sells here," says Dave.


There are no Canadian-based computer manufacturers, but Canada does have companies that are strong in specific computer-based applications, such as word processing and communications. Because of the need to cope with the vast distances between its pockets and population, Canada tends to be leader in communications technology for both voice an data. The area around Ottawa is referred to as the "Silicon Valley of the North," with research and development headquarters for two of the world's largest suppliers of communications equipment -- Northern Telecom and Mitel -- and other related high technology businesses.


"The proximity of such companies to our headquarters in Canada gives us a great opportunity to develop strategies that could be included int he corporation and improve our understanding in our related product areas -- such as office," notes Dave.


Canada consists of four districts. The Western District, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, extends for 2000 miles. It accounts for 29 percent of the Canadian business.  Ontario (exclusive of Ottawa area), with headquarter sin Toronto accounts for 39 percent of the business.  Ottawa government and the Maritime Provinces contributes another 19 percent. And Quebec provides the remaining 13 percent.


The French language is unique to Quebec. "We trade product literature with DEC in France and make modifications to reflect Canadian usage," explains Dave. "For instance, in France the accepted word for 'computer' is 'computer,' but in French Canada it is 'orindateur.' There are also a few minor grammatical differences between the two varieties of French -- such as accents on capital letters. This means word processing systems made for France are not entirely applicable here. Fortunately, DEC's new personal computers have a small processor in the keyboard itself which can be programmed to deal with variations in symbols; so it should be relatively easy to develop a keyboard specifically for Quebec, opening new markets for us there.


"I think the biggest challenge for us is to try to take a country that is fragmented by distance and build a company that is unified," say Dave. "It's further from Toronto Vancouver than it is from Toronto to Mexico City. It takes just as long to fly from Ottawa to Vancouver as it does to fly to Munich. Ireland is closer to Halifax than Vancouver is. It's a huge country -- 50000 miles wide, covering 5 time zones."


Every major university and educational institute in Canada uses DEC computers. VAX has become the standard in computer sciences courses. "Researchers at these institutions use DEC computers for advanced work that leads to new applications of our equipment that spread, in a ripple effect, right across the world," says Dave.


Manufacturing, Distribution and Control (MDC), which handles such industries as mining, oil and food production, is the largest product line, accounting for about $22 million (Canadian) out of about $170 million in sales. One of its biggest sales was to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, automating inventory control and administrative functions at 500 grain elevators throughout the province.


How DEC grew in Canada


DEC started manufacturing and put deep roots in Canada very early.  Canadian customers began to appear back in 1961. For instance, the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. at Chalk River, Ontario, designed a system that ran on the PDP-1 for recording and processing the voluminous data accumulated by instruments used in studying the energy of nuclear particles.


As other markets in research centers and universities continued to open up, DEC hired its first employee in Canada, Denny Doyle, in March 1963. On May 1, 1963, an 1100 square foot office at 1301 Richmond Road opened its doors and Digital Equipment of Canada Ltd. -- with a staff of two -- was officially born.


Manufacturing started in October, 1963. An abandoned woolen mill in Carleton Place, Ontario, was purchased; and by the end of 1964, there were about ten people involved in the manufacture and sale of logic modules. Shortly after the introduction of the PDP-8, the first mass produced minicomputer, Canada got involved in all aspects of its manufacture from the module assembly to backplane wiring to system checkout. In 1966, they began experimenting with semi-automatic wire-wrapping techniques; and, as a result, the Carleton Place facility soon became the backplane wire-wrapping facility for DEC's worldwide needs.


In 1971 when sales in Canada amounted to 412 million Canadian, DEC purchased 55 acres of land in Kanata (a city just west of Ottawa), built a facility and moved manufacturing, Computer Special Systems and Canadian headquarters there.


Originally, Canada was managed like a U.S. region as part of North American Sales. In 1979, it was made part of GIA to better focus on international issues.


Today, Digital Equipment of Canada employees over 1800 people -- about half of them (including 500 in Manufacturing) at the headquarters facility in Kanata, Ontario, (a suburb of Ottawa) and the rest in 33 sales and service offices from coast to coast. In 1982 revenue, including manufacturing, amounted to $295 million (Canadian).


Digital also supports over 50 OEMs, who add value to the company's products and resell aa total package to the end user. These firms employ over 1000 people and generate a quarter billion dollars of revenue.


Country Development Region


"Among the countries int eh Country development Region (DCR) that we actively pursue, Brazil has the largest computer market, Mexico the second largest," says Fred Gould, Sales manager of the Country Development Region. "In terms of profitability, DEC did very well in Brazil last year. But we would like to be doing anywhere from 4 to 10 times more business there. Unfortunately, we are limited because the Brazilian government reserves the minicomputer market for Brazilian-owned minicomputer companies."


DEC's business is also restricted in Mexico. Not only are there short term currency issues, but there are also market restrictions. The microcomputer market is reserved for Mexican-owned companies and to participate in the minicomputer market, multinational computer firms, like DEC, must submit plans for manufacturing in Mexico. Once a company has an approved plan, it gets a bigger import quota than it would if it wee considered as simply a distributor.


Currently, CDR's greatest growth is in the Far East. DEC has sales offices in Hong Kong and Singapore and distributors in South Korea and Taiwan. DEC also has customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and mainland China who buy from the Singapore and Hong Kong offices and through OEMs.


"Singapore, which is a 250 square mile country with a population of 3.5 million, is one of the easiest countries to do business with," Fred points out. "They want computer technology -- the ability to use the computers and also the ability to add value to computer systems. But their approach is the opposite of that of Brazil and Mexico. They encourage multinationals to come in. They set up a school to train local people to do the jobs companies need filled. they provide incentives and make it very easy for foreign corporation to get established. Also, unlike other places where the movement of profits out of a country are limited and taxed, in Singapore a company ahs total freedom of movement of investment and profit money. So Singapore is a very favorable place to do business."


In addition to its other challenges, CDR faces delays of up to 18 months in obtaining export licenses  from the U.S. government for some of the geographies. Despite these issues, there are now about a hundred DEC computers installed in mainland China. Most of them were placed there by OEMs, but about a dozen were supplied directly by DEC, through the Hong Kong office, mostly for educational applications. DEC computers also perform administrative functions at the Customs Houses in Canton and Shanghai.


The CDR countries have a total gross domestic product greater than that of the U.S. and, over time, notwithstanding the current economy, the average growth rate in these countries collectively ahs been considerably greater than that of the U.S. or Canada or Europe. "Its long term importance to the company is far greater than the present size of its business," says Fred. "Last, year, which was not an easy one for CDR, we did not achieve our budget -- but we still grew by 50 percent."


South Pacific Region




With only 15 million people in a territory the size of the continental U.S., Australia has widely separated pockets of population. In the early days, whenever a large computer like a PDP-6 or PDP-10 was sold in a new area, DEC had to open a new service office and hire one or two people just to support that one machine. And the people hired had to be highly technical, able to independently solve whatever problems might arise.


At the end of 1965 Digital Equipment Australia consisted of just two people in Sydney and three others 3000 miles away maintaining the PDP-6 in Perth, (See related article "going International"). But sales of the then recently introduced PDP-8 minicomputer soon flourished in Sydney. In August 1966, Albert Cushcieri was hired as the first minicomputer field service engineers. (The next year he joined the sales force. He is now the company's only four-time winner of the DECathlon, DEC's highest award for outstanding sales performance.)


By 1970 the staff consisted of 37 people. Since then sales have soared to $68 million (Australian), while the number of employees has grown to about 800 in 19 offices throughout Australia.


One of the more interesting applications is in Tasmania, a large island off the southern coast (toward Antarctica), with a population of about 250,000. That state's education department has for several years had a full computing curriculum in the elementary schools. Typically, each school has a classroom with three terminals hooked up to a PDP-11/34 shared with several other schools. (Tasmania is reputed to be the birthplace of many of Australia's computer experts).


New Zealand


Early ales in New Zealand were made out of Sydney, Australia by Robin Frith and Alan Williamson. The first machine sold into the country was a PDP-8 on July11, 1966.  Early in 1970 Mike Andrews was hired as the fist employee in New Zealand.  He opened a Field Service office in Wellington. He is now New Zealand Field Service support unit manager.


In 1971, the first New Zealand salesman was hired and for several years after that DEC was virtually the only minicomputer company successfully selling in New Zealand. By 1975 there were 250 computers installed.


In the late 70s, New Zealand grew dramatically, installing a massive network for the Dept. of Health under the leadership of Jim Meem.


Annual sales and service revenue there has grown to about $11 million (New Zealand dollars0, and there are now about 100 DEC employees at six offices in New Zealand.


Digital Japan today


DEC opened tis first Japanese branch in Tokyo in 1968 with a half dozen employees. since then Digital Japan has grown at an average rate of 40% per year to reach annual revenues of well over $100 million. Because of this rapid growth, about 400 of the present 850 employees have been with the firm for just two years or less.


The main officers, headed by Edmund Reilly, are located in the 60-story Sunshine 60 Building in Tokyo's busy Ikebukuro area. Outside Tokyo, the company ahs six sales offices, 18 service centers scattered rom Hokkaido to Kyushu and a quality assurance center in Chiba. The Japan operation incudes Sales, Computer Special Systems, Field Service, Software Services, Educational Services, Finance and Administration, Personnel and the newly formed Japan Research and Development Center -- part of DEC's Central Engineering organization.


DEC's customers in Japan include universities, hospitals, government agencies, banks, airlines, research institutions, railway lines and corporations. A total of 3000 DEC units are in operations. A large portion of these are used by universities and electric equipment manufacturers throughout Japan.


Japanese give DEC high marks


DEC's products ranked first in customer satisfaction in a recent survey of Japanese minicomputer users conducted by Nihon Keizai, a leading publisher of business newspapers and trade journals. Customers gave DEC high marks for overall satisfaction with product use. Mitsubishi Electric came second while IBM and Panfacom tied for third. They were followed by Hitachi, Yokogawa Hewlett-Packard, Oki Electric, Toshiba, Data General and NEC.


The survey of 1,092 major minicomputer users throughout Japan was taken earlier this year. The results, based on a 49 percent return, were announced in a recent issue of Nikkei Computer, a magazine affiliated with Data Communications in the U.S. Questions were asked in five categories. DEC ranked first in operability and processing capacity and second in reliability and expandability.


"DEC, which received the highest rating in overall satisfaction, stands either first or second in most categories, noted Nikkei Computer. "DEC has achieved the same status in minicomputers that IBM has achieved in mainframes. The 16-bit capacity that is the mainstay of minicomputers was brought about by the best-selling PDP-11 series which DEC announced in 1970. DEC's high customer satisfaction is credited to the total perfection of their systems, reflecting their long history."


DEC's VAX computers received overwhelmingly high marks from users, ranking first in all areas of comparison with 19 competitive models.


Asked why they decided to purchase DEC's machines, 59.3 percent of DEC's customers listed "excellent software" and 64.4 percent "excellent hardware."  privacy statement