Hoping to capture a slice of the rapidly growing market for portable personal computers used in business and industry, Texas Instruments Inc. on Monday introduced three laptop machines.
Dallas-based Texas Instruments, one of the 10 largest semiconductor makers in the world, has until now had little success in the personal computer business. It has made IBM-compatible personal computers as a contract manufacturer for small computer makers such as Acer Technologies.
In the early 1980s, TI introduced a line of personal computers. But it took a big writeoff in 1984 because it had a proprietary operating system in a market dominated by IBM and Microsoft Corp. systems.
"We are concerned to see them re-enter a business they haven't been in in a few years. We're anxiously awaiting these announcements," said Rick Whittington, an analyst at Kidder, Peabody & Co.
The new Texas Instruments laptops will not be sold through retail outlets, a company spokeswoman said.
She said the company's smallest laptop, the notebook-sized Model 12, will weigh between six and seven pounds and cost $4,199. It will also contain a 2 1/2-inch 20-megabyte hard disk, with an optional 3 1/4-inch removable floppy disk drive, she said.
Texas Instruments will also market a Model 25 laptop, which will weigh 14 pounds and have a 20-megabyte hard disk. It will cost $4,999.
The Model 45, which has a 40-megabyte hard disk, will cost $5,599. All three laptops are based on Intel Corp.'s powerful 80286 chip and are compatible with IBM's PC/AT computers.
The systems will be available through value-added resellers, industrial distributors and original equipment manufacturers, the company said.
The move follows Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp.'s introduction earlier this month of two "notebook" computers weighing four to seven pounds but having the power of many desktop machines. They were also the first minimachines to have hard disks.