Compaq to Sell ‘Modular’ PCs
Compaq Computer Corp. today will announce a line of “modular” personal computers whose major components can be snapped out and replaced as technology advances.
Other companies offer PCs with expandable memories and removable microprocessors, the “brains” of the computers. Compaq says its four models will be the first to allow users to swap nearly all the key components.
“It’s something that customers are really hot on these days,” said Compaq President Rod Canion. “It ties in with an overall sensitivity to cost. They want the investment to last.”
Cost sensitivity was one of the factors Compaq blamed for an 81% profit plunge in the second quarter. It said customers increasingly bought lower-priced clones of IBM personal computers rather than Compaq’s.
Canion admitted that there is a danger the new modular computers could cannibalize future PC sales since customers need only buy a new circuit board or two to update machines rather than a new computer.
But, he said, “The bigger risk is to not give customers what they’re asking for.”
In addition to a replaceable processor board, the Compaq Deskpro-M models feature a replaceable video graphics controller board; memory board; the “bus,” or internal wiring slots into which other boards are plugged, and the input-output board, which controls how data is moved in and out of the PC through the keyboard and other devices.