Chapter 13 - Data Communications: Adaptation 1979-1986
In 1986, the sales of T-1 multiplexers continued to be a bonanza for Timeplex. After sales of $48 million in 1985, sales soared 66% to $80 million in 1986. Timeplex continued to command about one-third of the total market. In the spring of 1986, they also announced their next flagship T-1 multiplexer - the Link/2. Two improved features in the Link/2 were support for digitized voice and CBXs. Surprisingly, the Link/2 did not increase the number of T-1 circuits that could be switched - 6 circuits - even as the new high-end switches of NET, the IDNX, could switch 32 circuits and Cohesive Networks, the CN-1, could switch 15 circuits. Market data in mid-1986 reported that the average-sized network was 26 nodes and many companies were expanding their networks to 50 to 100 nodes.27 Had Timeplex misread the market or had they chosen to focus on their traditional mid-sized accounts? Edward Botwinick, Chairman and CEO, when interviewed in June 1986 said:28
That is a lot bigger than I would have told you a year ago.
Botwinick further implied that Timeplex might announce a larger switch in 1987, but still it would take a couple of years for it to reach the market.
Then rumors of a potentially industry altering alignment began to circulating in early 1987, Timeplex was nearing an agreement with IBM. Imagine then the shock in June, when NET and IBM announced their joint marketing and development agreement.
Botwinick and Timeplex reacted quickly. First came the introduction of its Unified Network Management System. Then came the Link/100 networking switch, able to switch 144 T-1 circuits and 15,000 input/output ports. Timeplex showed no signs of falling behind. Knowing they needed to create credibility fast, rumors appeared in Data Communications in July, for example:29
Usually reliable rumormongers say that T1 industry leader Timeplex Inc., still rattling from IBM’s tapping of arch-competitor Network Equipment Technologies as its vanguard into the T1 arena, is itself looking to team up with a leading computer power. And the target reportedly is Digital Equipment Corp. If such a technological and marketing marriage does make it to the altar, there could end up being three major players in T1 data networking and network management: IBM/NET/SNA/Netview, et al; AT&T; and DEC and Timeplex/Timeview.
The need to secure a partner made sense; only DEC proved yet another rumor without substance. On November 19, 1987, Unisys, the mainframe computer conglomerate, announced it was acquiring Timeplex in a stock swap valued at $307 million. Computer and communications, communications and computers, emerging and merging in order to both survive and grow.