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Eagle PC

Untitled Document

Jim Morgan reports:

I was a product manager for PC sales for Kaltronics Distributing in '82. We were one of Eagles first Distributors in the then prevalent "two tier" marketing system.

Denny Barnhart was President of Eagle when they had their initial IPO. Denny's options that day became worth over p million dollars by 3:00PM CA time. He headed to a Marina with a yacht salesman in his company Ferrari. On his way back to the office he lost control and crashed almost on the company campus and he and the salesman were killed instantly. Eagle's management withdrew the offering as Denny was the guiding, driving force behind the success of the company. When the re-iniated the offering a couple of weeks later it was as successful as the first one. Then BIG BLUE came a calling and the rest is tattered history

David Perry was the very last employee of Eagle Computer:

In the end admitted to the building each day by the guard hired by the bankruptcy court. Eagle begin as a spin off of a Minnesota company called AVI. AVI made slide show controllers that would operate multiple 35mm slide projectors. In the early eighties they made a controller that was in fact an entire computer--a C/PM machine called the AVI Eagle. They bundled a number of applications such as spellbinder ( a word processor by lexisoft) and Sorcim's Ultrasoft under the names Eaglewriter and EagleCalc. The computer had a keyboard design with function keys dedicated to the bundled software.

In '82, Eagle released the PC, which, as noted, had no fan, the space under the mainboard for the keyboard, and a bundle customized and dedicated 105 key keytronics keyboard. The PC is 8088 based, and did use a cribbed IBM bios (as noted). The motherboard was upside down on this computer, and it was a real pain to find the SW901 and SW902 dip switches needed to put a color graphics card inside.

The Eagle was smaller, lighter, quieter and a cooler design than the IBM PC, but two things really put the company out of business.
First, the IBM bios case (eagle rewrote it's bios as part of the settlement, but the delay the case brought caused all of eagles components to age one year--and after 1986 every computer eagle sold was at a whopping loss. And, second, the president of the company died in a car crash the day that Eagle went public.

Eagle also made a high performance computer called the 1600, an 8Mhz 8086 based design (believe it or not the world's fastest desktop computer of it's day) and, later, the Eagle Turbo (a similar design with custom PLA's to better emulate an 8086).

In 1986, it's last year, Eagle was developing a client/server system called the Eagle Talon, based on a multiboard main system powered by 80386 daughterboards. They had also produced a compaq like "luggable" called the Eagle spirit.

In the end, Eagle's intellectual property was sold to Korean manufacturer KE&C. No Korean Eagles were ever made, as by that time the clone system we all know today had taken over.

Eagle comptuers were American designed and built--top quality units for their day, and incorporated many design innovations. I am proud to have been part of the team that brought you Eagle Computers. It was my second job in the computer industry--a time when every year brought exciting new changes.

Ken Campbell remembers:

I was employee #11 at Businessland – a high flying start-up from 1982 with retail stores throughout the US and in Europe. I hired over 2000 people in building this company and also was responsible for developing our successful direct sales programs.

The Eagle computer came into our product line and was very successful. It was lower priced than the IBM and Compaq computers, had a smaller footprint and was much quieter. As your website remarks it also had far superior video qualities. We sold a lot of Eagle’s and did well until the founders unfortunate death at the hands of his poor driving his Ferrari. The day before their IPO. Talk about bad timing.

Stan Brin, author of the famous SmartKey utility adds:

Of course the Eagle PC could boot PC-DOS, the company cribbed the IBM ROM BIOS!
That's what killed them - IBM sued and they were stuck!
Compaq wrote their own ROM BIOS using a double blind system that IBM couldn't break -- they prospered!
(By the way, Eagle bundled SmartKey because they had earlier promised a macro program in their prospectus.)

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