Xerox Corp. Unveils 2 Star System Models; Cuts Price on Another

The Wall Street Journal

February 15, 1984

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Xerox Corp. introduced two additional models of its sophisticated 8010 Star office computer and cut the price of its current slow-selling Star model by 34%.

The moves are designed to "dramatically improve sales" of the 8010 Star system introduced in 1981, said John Shoch, president of Xerox's office systems division. The new Star models include a remote work station priced at $9,995 and a stand-alone work station priced at $8,995. In addition, Xerox cut the price of a Star model to $9,995 from $15,055.

Previously, data communications with the Star system could be handled only though Xerox's Ethernet local information network. The new remote model also allows access through standard telephone lines or through a PBX, a sophisticated office switchboard. Xerox said the new stand-alone work station offers the same features as the other models except for those requiring online network services.

Xerox said it would begin taking orders for the two new Star models in the second quarter. The price reduction on the network Star work station takes effect immediately.

The Star system has won praise in the computer industry for several innovations intended to make the computer easier to operate. Among them are stamp-sized symbols, called "icons," that appear on the computer screen and represent various commands such as "file" and "print." Another is a hand-held device called a "mouse" that controls a pointer on the screen. Using the mouse to place the pointer over the screen icon of a file drawer, for example, the user can command the computer to store text or other specified items.

The Star technology has been incorporated in other computers such as Apple Computer Inc.'s Lisa and new Macintosh models. But the Star's high price and some operating problems with early versions of the system damped sales.

Xerox officials also have conceded that the company has done a "lousy job" marketing its computer products. The latest Xerox announcements were seen as an attempt to revive interest in the Star system.

The Star "hasn't been a very successful product venture for Xerox," said Brian Fernandez, a senior vice president at Nomura Securities in New York. "From its start, it was clear that its software and hardware would have to be redone and its price was too high."

Mr. Fernandez added that Xerox's moves yesterday addressed these problems but "it remains to be seen if this will be enough."

Copyright (c) 1984, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.