EMC/Dell deal respectfully caps the minicomputer age

The legacies of Wang, Prime, DEC and Data General live on in mega-deal


Over the years I've followed EMC, executives have told me that cloudfather Joe Tucci would sometimes gaze out of his office window at the company's Hopkinton headquarters and ponder the company's place as the last surviving Massachusetts technology giant.

The story goes that from Tucci's office he could see buildings once inhabited by local companies like Wang, Lotus, Digital, Data General and Prime. All of those companies boomed, went global and played important roles in the technology industry's evolution. All went on to suffer ignominious ends as the minicomputer age sputtered out.

EMC started out serving many of those vendors in its first incarnation as a memory company. It famously later caught the mass storage bug and became the $20bn colossus Dell so prized.

EMC people felt its success could be attributed, at least in part, to the ecosystem and talent created by its predecessors. Tucci never forgot that and is said to have felt that EMC had a responsibility to the community that birthed and nourished it. So much so that EMC's insistence it must stay in Massachusetts became an insurmountable barrier to a possible merger with HP.

Dell had no problem with EMC's desire to stay in Hopkinton. Indeed, Dell's enterprise division will be centred on EMC's campus.

The acquisition of EMC by Dell will therefore preserve an important part of Massachusetts' technology legacy, ensuring, if only symbolically, a link from the minicomputer age to the cloud. ®

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