General Automation to Distribute in Australia

Times Staff Writer

General Automation Inc., the Anaheim computer maker in the middle of a massive turnaround effort, said Tuesday that it has signed a marketing and distribution agreement with an Australian company that could be worth more than $15 million over the next three years.

The agreement calls for AWA Computers of North Sydney to launch a major marketing and sales campaign for General Automation's Zebra line of business computers in the South Pacific this spring. The computer systems, although made according to General Automation specifications, will be sold under the brand name of AWA Computers, a division of AWA Ltd.

The deal represents yet another step in General Automation's five-year effort to restructure its operations and develop a successful line of business computers. The effort, which had been seriously stalled by the slowdown in the electronics industry, has picked up steam within the last year and appears to be gaining more momentum.

Within the last year, the company has restructured its debts, issued new stock, sold off its faltering mini-computer business and focused its operations almost entirely on its 4-year-old line of microcomputers known as Zebra.

The agreement with AWA gives General Automation ties to Australia and New Zealand's largest computer distributor at a time when these countries represent one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for business machines.

General Automation Chairman and President Leonard N. Mackenzie said AWA would probably begin manufacturing some of the computers in Australia in the future.

Earlier this week General Automation said it would begin deliveries this fall of a high-performance model of its Zebra multiuser business computer system that will double the terminal capacity of the company's current product offering.

According to the announcement made by Mackenzie, the new system will accommodate up to 256 concurrent users and will use up to five Motorola microprocessors when fully configured.

"With the availability this fall of Zebra 8820, General Automation's Zebra family of systems will be by far the broadest coherent product offering" among computer systems using the Pick operating system, Mackenzie said.

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