Silicon Graphics, one of the original makers of high-performance graphical workstations, has filed for bankruptcy protection. Sad news for this one-time market leader.
While I’ve been following the decline of SGI for some time, so this was not a surprise, it’s a useful reminder of how few tech companies survive changing market eras. The PC companies nuked DEC and the minicomputer companies, and then Sun blew up SGI (sort of), and now Google is giving Microsoft fits. It’s very rare, however, that one of those incumbents successfully fights back, making Schwartz’s job at Sun look tough, and making the Microsoft’s struggles with Google all the more painful.
If you’re interested in a little time in the wayback machine, check this 1994 Wired profile of SGI to see what it was like to be the then “hottest computer company in Silicon Valley”. I was an analyst at the time, and I remember reading the piece in Wired and writing a scathing (and more than a little jejeune) anti-SGI thing in Hotwired. Like usual, I was was a decade early, but we futurists always have troubling with timing such things
[Update] Dave Taylor has a good users-eye view of SGI’s slide to Chapter 11-ishness, including the tidbit that Google has been buying up all the lovely SGI buildings around the Valley. Don’t let anyone tell you that the tech industry doesn’t eat its young. It does. Lustily.