Convergent Technologies

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Convergent Technologies was an American computer company formed by a small group of people who left Intel Corporation and Xerox PARC in 1979. Among the founders were CEO Allen Michels, VP Engineering Bob Garrow, head of marketing Kal Hubler, and operating system architect Ben Wegbreit.

Convergent Technologies' first product was the Integrated WorkStation (IWS) tower based on the Intel 8086 microprocessor chip. The next product was a cost-reduced desktop version, called the Advanced WorkStation (AWS). Both of these workstations ran in an RS-422 clustered environment under a proprietary operating system known as Convergent Technologies Operating System (CTOS). The clustered networking technology can be viewed[by whom?] as a precursor of Apple Computer's AppleTalk network.

In 1982, Convergent formed a new division to focus on a multi-processor computer known as the MegaFrame. The MegaFrame ran a UNIX System III-derived operating system called CTIX on multiple Motorola 68010 processors. Three other I/O processor boards could also be placed in the system: the file processor, the cluster processor, and the terminal processor. All I/O processor boards were based on the Intel 80186 and ran a scaled-down version of CTOS. The MegaFrame division was headed by Ben Wegbreit; Steve Blank, in charge of division marketing, went on to found several Silicon Valley startups, including E.piphany, and as of 2012 lectures on technology startups at Stanford University and elsewhere; Jon Huie in charge of Software; Richard Lowenthal in charge of Hardware.

Convergent later used the Motorola 68010 in their MiniFrame, and later Motorola 68020 and 68040 processors in their VME-based MightyFrame systems, all also running CTIX.

The AWS (Advanced WorkStation), based on the Intel 8086, was eventually replaced by the NGEN (New or Next Generation) workstation, based on the Intel 80186 microprocessor. To Burroughs users the NGEN was known as the "B25" and to Prime Computer users it was known as the "Prime Producer 100" (a word-processing workstation) and also as the "Prime Producer 200".

The NGEN model was also sold with an MSDOS version running on top of CTOS. It was sold by McDonnell Douglas Computer Systems Company (previously known as Microdata Corporation) who included a copy of their Pick-based Reality Database system which ran on MSDOS.

Later models kept pace with Intel CPU development through at least the Intel 80386 era. A successor to the NGEN called the SuperGen and based on the Intel 80486 was finally introduced in 1993 by Unisys, approximately 5 years after it had acquired Convergent Technologies. Convergent also developed the first Motorola 68010 OEM UNIX product for AT&T, the AT&T 7300, and integrated a number features (Stream-based I/O, Multinational Language Support) to the Intel AT&T UNIX base (SVR3.2).

Convergent Technologies systems were also resold by Motorola under the Motorola/4-Phase brand. Motorola/4-Phase pioneered development of international character support for Unix platforms for their EMEA business using the CTOS/CTIX equipment.

A very early tablet-style personal computer system - the WorkSlate - was designed and marketed by Convergent Technologies. Its primary user interface was a spreadsheet. The tablet utilized a mini-cassette for voice- and data-recording and for loading a range of pre-packaged "Add-on" applications to handle tasks such as the management of personal expenses, calendars, etc. (At that time there was no facility to download such "apps" over the Internet, so they were available only on the mini-cassettes.)

Convergent reached an agreement to acquire 3Com in March 1986, but the merger was called off at the last moment. Unisys bought Convergent Technologies in 1988, after which Convergent Technologies became Unisys' Network Systems Division.

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This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.