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The History Of "Prime Computer, Inc."

Prime Computer produced minicomputers from 1972 until 1992. They came in various shapes and sizes and used the PrimOS operating system. They were big old propriety boxes of course.

Prime Computer was one of the 70s and 80s minicomputer manufacturers.

In 1980 Prime Computer was the number one moving stock on the NYSE up a stunning 272%!

In their day they were powerful machines that sold well but Prime was a victim of the late 80s downsizing and no longer produces computers or indeed exists in any recognisable form.

Prime was started in 1972 by 7 founders, originally they produced clones of Honeywell 316 and 516 minis. Later on they produced the successful Prime 400 and in 1979 the Prime 750 which was a great success.

Into the 80s Prime marched producing faster and more powerful machines and opening offices across the world, including China. They were in the Fortune 500 companies (peaking at around 334). But as the 90s approached the computer industry was changing fast. UNIX Workstations and Open Systems were seizing minicomputer market share, all the old propriety mini and mainframe makers were struggling. The high TCO of Prime hardware and software was making them less and less attractive. Prime were stuck in the 60/70s mindset of charging massive amounts of money for software such as compilers and for regarding their hardware/software combination as an island and anything else as not important.

Prime bought ComputerVision who made CAD software for mainframes and workstations in 1988. Just after this Prime ran into financial trouble, cancelling projects and making staff redundant. Prime tried to change into a UNIX workstation producer but the company was dying. Money was getting tight and the best people were leaving or had gone. Debt was also getting high.

However on July 22 1992 the end finally came, hardware operations in the mainstay 50 series were ceased, staff were released and Prime became ComputerVision. Prime doesn't exist anymore though CVSI and Peritus continue to offer support and bugfix the OS. Primos is Y2K compliant with some fixes!