Accompanied by indoor fireworks, laser lights and booming synthesizer music, Compaq Computer Corp. on Monday unveiled two computer systems, including one that it is touting as the world's most powerful desktop personal computer.
The personal computer, to be known as the Deskpro 486-25, uses an Intel Corp. 486 microprocessor as its heart and has three times the computing speed of its predecessor, which used a 386 chip.
"Our new product offers true general-purpose flexibility . . . meaning it will not become obsolete," Compaq President Rod Canion said.
"You could compare it to the IBM PS-2, Model 80, which is a floor-standing unit," he said. "But the Deskpro 486-25 has more expansion capability even though it sits on a desk."
The Compaq announcement came one day before rival computer maker NCR Corp. was to unveil its 486-based personal computer. Unlike Compaq's, however, NCR will use a system similar to the IBM Personal System-2 line of personal computers.
IBM has not introduced a personal computer built on the 486 chip yet, but it did come out with a card that lets users plug the 486 chip into their existing personal computers.
The 486 chip is so powerful that it will allow personal computers to do certain jobs now done by engineering work stations, minicomputers and even mainframes.
Compaq detected some minor problems with the chip last month and informed Intel, which has said it would begin shipping a fixed version of the chip by the end of this month.
The uncertainty about the new chip, combined with slowing sales in the American market, prompted Compaq last week to announce that its fourth-quarter earnings would be below those of a year ago. That announcement triggered a 15% plunge in the price of Compaq stock.
Compaq's stock jumped 75 cents a share Monday in consolidated New York Stock Exchange trading, closing at $89.25.
On Monday, however, Canion and other Compaq executives were upbeat, telling about 1,000 dealers and computer experts who attended the lavish introduction that the new computer, along with a new Systempro personal computer system, represented another Compaq milestone in the industry.
The Systempro system is designed for network and multi-user situations. It fits under a desk, yet has the computing power of minicomputers that require racks of equipment, according to Compaq.
The Houston-based company's phenomenal growth came as it made computers that followed the IBM standard. Compaq, however, refused to follow IBM in 1987 when IBM brought out its Personal System-2 line, which use a new data pathway known as micro channel.
Compaq and eight other personal computer makers deny IBM's assertion that micro channel is the way of the future and say they have found a way to extend the life of the old data pathway, which they call extended industry standard architecture, or EISA.
The new Deskpro 486 will be offered in three models, ranging in price from $13,999 to $20,499, with first shipments expected at Compaq dealers by late December or January.
The Systempro system, also in three versions, ranges from $15,999 to $25,999, with shipments to begin in December.