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uw-beaver!laser-lovers
From: laser-lovers@uw-beaver
Newsgroups: fa.laser-lovers
Subject: Xerox and selling Dovers
Message-ID: <922@uw-beaver>
Date: Fri, 15-Mar-85 17:16:47 EST
Article-I.D.: uw-beave.922
Posted: Fri Mar 15 17:16:47 1985
Date-Received: Tue, 19-Mar-85 05:55:17 EST
Sender: daemon@uw-beaver
Organization: U of Washington Computer Science
Lines: 78

From: Brian Reid <reid@Glacier>

Gary,
   I am quite certain of the number $160K for a dover. Well, maybe
it would be $150K or $170K, but it is certainly not $40K. It
is possible that the internal Xerox transfer price of a Dover is $40K,
but I doubt it very much. Stanford was offered the purchase of a
Penguin printer in 1981 for $135K plus a page charge of 2 cents a page
(even though we owned the machine!!!). I made a large number of
telephone calls in 1981 and 1982 trying to find people willing to sell
us their Dovers; we found one at Boeing that they were maybe or maybe
not willing to sell, but wanted $200K for it. When Xerox made an
equipment grant to CMU in 1979, the equipment grant was in the form of
monopoly money and a price list. They gave us $1 million in monopoly
money and a shopping list; the shopping list included Dovers and Altos
and a few other things. The price of a Dover in terms of that monopoly
money was $150K in 1979; I think that $160K in real 1985 dollars is not
at all out of line. Every Dover contains an Alto; I have seen Altos
alone selling for $40K at various times (as components of APS, which
was on the market for a couple of years in 1981 and 1982).

I have on occasion been accused by Xerox employees of having an
anti-Xerox bias in my messages to this group. The issue of the Dover
and selling it is an example of the kind of issue on which I say things
that are probably anti-Xerox, but let me explain.

The Dover is without a doubt the finest laser printer ever built. By
"finest", I mean the right combination of resolution, speed,
reliability, noise, image quality, software, etc. It is unbelievably
reliable. When I left CMU in 1980 they were putting a million pages a
month through their Dover. Its ability to print at speed a mixture of
good-looking text and good-looking graphics has never been equalled,
let alone exceeded. Stanford's Dover has had almost 50 million pages
printed on it since it arrived here a few years ago, and although the
image quality is not as good as it once was, the idea that a machine
can still print that well after 50 million pages is amazing.

Xerox chose not to sell Dovers. There were various reasons for this,
and I don't care what they were. They chose instead to sell machines
that couldn't hold a candle to the Dover in terms of what many
customers wanted, and to charge a lot more for them. The 9700 cost
$300K, and just didn't cut it as anything more than a glorified line
printer.  Xerox did sell a few Penguins, but the Penguin was a real
maintenance hazard because it used a backplane that was not available
or repairable, and people who bought Penguins stood a real danger of
having a $135K machine break irreparably.

The net result of Xerox's policies about selling things were that I was
not able to buy a laser printer that did what I wanted it to do. Not at
any price. I would have gladly paid $160K for a Dover 2 or 3 years ago.
I don't want one any more, because now I can buy an Apple LaserWriter
for 1/22 of that price, and it does more of what I want than the Dover.
You claim that my numbers about Dover speed are wrong, because people
often print multiple copies of things. That is false. Here at Stanford
people are not permitted to print multiple copies of things on the
Dover. The reason for this is that the Dover is an invaluable and
irreplaceable resource, and we must at any cost prevent it from being
destroyed. We print 600,000 pages a month on it anyhow; what would
happen if we permitted people to print multiple copies? This says that
there is a 600,000 page per month demand for single-copy printing.
Because of the load on our Dover it takes a long time to get your
output. I have spent half an hour waiting for my output, standing in a
long line. I don't have to do that any more because I have my own
LaserWriter. The principle of the personal computer comes to laser
printers, and I love it! The Dover was great, and is still great, but
the LaserWriter is better because it meets my real needs better, and I
think you will find that most people like me have their real needs met
better by a LaserWriter across the hall than a Dover in the next
building. If Xerox had been willing to make and sell Dovers, or if
Xerox had been willing to make and sell a laser printer as good as the
Dover, instead of the pathetic 2700 or the overpriced 9700 or the
unusable 8044 or the inappropriate 5700, I think it would have had a
big effect on the current marketplace and the current demand and the
current thinking about what people want in terms of laser printers. It
is now too late, and the majestic piece of engineering that is the
Dover will have to get shipped of to the computer museum or to the
dump, rather than to the Fortune hall of fame, because the bloody thing
was never for sale.

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uw-beaver!laser-lovers
From: laser-lovers@uw-beaver
Newsgroups: fa.laser-lovers
Subject: Re: Xerox and selling Dovers
Message-ID: <923@uw-beaver>
Date: Fri, 15-Mar-85 18:07:19 EST
Article-I.D.: uw-beave.923
Posted: Fri Mar 15 18:07:19 1985
Date-Received: Tue, 19-Mar-85 05:52:00 EST
Sender: daemon@uw-beaver
Organization: U of Washington Computer Science
Lines: 20

From: starkweather...@XEROX.ARPA


The point is that comparing the price of a highly product engineered
LaserWriter and a DOVER is an Apples and Banana's game (no pun
intended). DOVER would have cost no more than $40K if it had been
productized.  DOVER's also run at 384 per inch and that is something of
value. The DOVER has relatively modest to tolerable xerography which is
rendered superb in the LaserWriter. I lament like you that DOVER's never
saw the light of day but that is history, albeit unhappy history. There
was a proposal from myself and two others here at PARC to put solid area
xerography from the Fuji-Xerox 7200 in the printer, re-skin the machine
and productize the Alto orbit. The projected end-user price was about
$50 in volumes of several hundred machines. Alas, no market was thought
to exist by the vizier's of Xerox. By 1985 standards of course the
existing non-solid area DOVER, with text only capability and no duplex
is an old but reliable Buick. I would like to replace ours, but with
what? Maybe 50 Canon engines is not such a bad idea.

Cheers, Gary