Technical and Commercial Dependencies:

Continuing the Story of Data General -the company featured in:
Kidder, Tracy (1981). The Soul of a New Machine. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint edition July 1997 by Modern Library. ISBN 0679602615.

The report mentioned below is described in: Lock-in or No Lock-in? and concerns shifts in the computer industry away from
"vendor lock-in". Formerly almost all computer companies attempted to make their machines different enough that when their customers sought a more powerful machine, it was often cheaper to buy another from the same company. This was known as "vendor lock-in", which helped guarantee future sales even though the customers detested it.


Mr. de Castro agreed with the report, and future generations of the MV series were terminated. Instead, DG released a technically interesting series of Unix servers known as the AViiON. The name 'AViiON' was a play on the name of DG's first product, Nova, implying "Nova II". In an effort to keep costs down, the AViiON was originally designed and shipped with the Motorola 88000 RISC processor, a chip with fairly high performance, yet not as high as other processors of the time. To compensate, the AViiON machines supported multi-processing, later evolving into NUMA-based systems, allowing the machines to scale upwards in performance by adding additional processors.

An important element in all enterprise computer systems is high speed storage. At the time AViiON came to market, commodity hard drives could not offer the sort of performance needed for data center use. DG attacked this problem in the same fashion as the processor issue, by running a large number of drives in parallel. The overall performance was greatly improved and the resulting innovation was marketed as the CLARiiON line. The CLARiiON arrays, which offered SCSI RAID in various capacities, offered a great price/performance and platform flexibility over competing solutions.

The CLARiiON line was marketed not only to AViiON customers, but to the larger DG customer base, mainly those using the MV series. The upturn in business from the CLARiiON line turned DG into a storage solutions company overnight. When used together, the AViiON/CLARiiON combination delivered microprocessor-based systems that outperformed traditional minicomputers of the same generation, an idea many in the industry did not anticipate would happen so soon.

The Final Downturn and EMC Takeover; Life After Death

Despite Data General betting the AViiON farm on the Motorola 88000, Motorola decided to end production of that line. The 88000 had never been very successful, and DG was the only major customer. When Apple Computer and IBM proposed their joint solution based on POWER designs, the PowerPC, Motorola happily picked up the manufacturing contract and killed the 88000.

DG quickly responded and introduced new models of the AViiON series based on a true commodity processor, the Intel "x86" series. By this time a number of other vendors, notably Sequent Computer Systems, were also introducing similar machines. The lack of lock-in now came back to haunt DG, and the rapid commoditization of the Unix market led to shrinking sales. DG did begin a minor shift toward the service industry, training their technicians for the role of implementing a spat of new x86-based servers and the new Microsoft Windows NT domain-driven, small server world. This never progressed beyond a few sites, however.

CLARiiON did better after finding a large niche for Unix storage systems, and its sales were still strong enough to make DG a takeover target. EMC Corporation, a major data storage company, acquired Data General and its assets in 1999. Although details of the acquisition specified that EMC had to take the entire company, and not just the storage line, EMC quickly ended all development and production of DG computer hardware and parts, effectively ending Data General's presence in the segment. The maintenance business was sold to a third party, who also acquired all of DG's remaining hardware components for spare parts sales to old DG customers. The CLARiiON line continues to be a major player in the market today, and is still marketed under that name. On the World Wide Web, all that officially remains of Data General are a few EMC web pages at the old Data General domain (, which only mention the latter company in passing.