What classic equipment was rebadged?

From: Sellam Ismail <dastar_at_ncal.verio.com>
Date: Mon Mar 8 10:56:31 1999

On Mon, 8 Mar 1999, Derek Peschel wrote:

> I know that Company A would take one of Company B's products and stick a
> "Company A" label on it... that's what most people mean when they say
> "rebadging", I think. It's pretty easy to spot, if you can find one of
> Company B's products for sale.
> What classic hardware/software companies were most famous for this? I've
> learned (from Allison and Megan's various posts) that Digital sometimes used
> other companies' stuff -- often at the cheap end of a line of products, I
> suspect. What about IBM? Wang? Microsoft?

Its mostly specialized peripherals that were OEM'd (or re-badged)
like printers and modems. IBM OEM'd their Proprinter from Epson for
instance. VTech (or Video Technology) manufactured many different
computers that showed up under other company's names.

The Altair (and many other S-100 boxes, especially Compupro) was
integrated into specialized industrial control applications. A perfect
example is a MITS box selling on eBay right now as a Sherwood Medical
blood analysis machine. Thousands of Compupro boxes are still in
operation today, but you wouldn't know it because they are integrated into
a complete system sold under a different company's name. I recently found
a Rockwell AIM-65 that was sold as some sort of controller. Lots of the
early single-board computers made their way into industrial control
applications as well.

I remember reading an article about a guy who took Radio Shack M100's and
used them to control washing machines in heavy duty landromats.

So there are many, many examples.

> And that ties into the other reason I made this post. What does the
> computer industry look like from the companies' perspective? What sorts of
> nasty deals have gone on in back rooms? Big companies love to use terms
> like "OEM" or "supplier" but that doesn't even scratch the surface of a
> complex web of relationships.

Its all about making money. A lot of companies don't see a need to
re-invent the wheel. They integrate whatever is already out there and
make a lot of money. Others, like Apple, refuse to use even basic
elements that already exist, like the disk drive, which is whey they went
through the trouble of designing the Tiwggy drives that went into the
first Lisa that were so unreliable. Ever heard of NIH? Not Invented
Here? Apple is the leader in NIH. Meaning if its not invented here its

A lot of times one company will put out a design spec for manufacturers to
bid upon. This is usually the case when the company does not have the
manufacturing or R&D facilities to design such-n-such themselves, and/or
don't want to put the resources into doing it because its not in their
business plan to be a manufacturer or R&D lab.

Another interesting example is Morrow. In the mid-80's the IRS put out an
RFP (Request For Proposal) for a portable computer for their field agents.
Morrow designed the Pivot Portable (which I believe I learned not too
long ago was actually designed by yet another firm) and bid the
contract themselves, but also licensed the design to Zenith who eventually
won the contract. Go figure.

> Then there's the even more intricate question of the *information* behind
> all of the energy (i.e., the source code, algorithms, proprietary
> techniques). Sometimes a high enough price will buy it; sometimes it isn't
> available for any price... wierd.

Its all specific to the deal struck between the companies involved. Some
want it all, others just want the end product.

> I'll save the question about the quality of the finished product for next
> itme. :) Besides, I already think I know the answer: often the quality is
> the last priority on the list, and the customer gets the shaft. (At least
> lately. Maybe it was different 25 years ago.)

That's not true. If a company like IBM, for instance, OEM's a printer and
sells it with their name on it that turns out to be a piece of shit, who
do you think gets the bad press, the name on the badge or the company that
built it?

Sellam Alternate e-mail: dastar_at_siconic.com
Don't rub the lamp if you don't want the genie to come out.

                  Coming in 1999: Vintage Computer Festival 3.0
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Received on Mon Mar 08 1999 - 10:56:31 GMT

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